Dealing Cards: Carson Palmer is back practicing, for a little while anyway
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals were back on the practice field Tuesday and among the players participating in the OTA session was quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Cardinals are making it a point to rest the veteran passer in an effort to make sure he is fresh for the regular season, which is something the 37-year-old supports but is not necessarily excited about.
On Tuesday, as the Cardinals began their third week of OTAs, Palmer was in his familiar spot as the team’s No. 1 quarterback.
“Carson threw last week, he practiced our last day last week so he came back today,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We’ll go again tomorrow, see how he feels two days in a row.
“Whether he goes Thursday or Friday, we’ll see.”
Arians said Palmer “looked sharp” and, not surprisingly, was glad to be back on the field.
“He was like a little kid in a candy store,” the coach said with a laugh.
With Palmer back in the fold, Arians said he felt the team had a good start to the week in terms of effort, with the caveat that they would have to check out the tape to determine if the quality was up to standards.
Branch is back
Tyvon Branch’s debut season with the Cardinals was one to forget.
Brought in to supplement the team’s dynamic secondary with his versatility, Branch tallied 17 total tackles over the first two games before notching five in Weeks 3 and 4, the latter of which saw him suffer a groin injury.
Branch rehabbed and was able to return to the field after the team designated him as its one player who could return from Injured Reserve, only to have him hurt his groin again and miss the final three games of the year.
As of now, he feels good.
“It’s healthy now and I’m out there moving good,” he said. “That’s all I can worry about now.
“Last season’s over, I’ve got to move forward onto this season.”
Branch joined the Cardinals in 2016 as a free agent from the Kansas City Chiefs on a two-year, $8 million contract. He has since restructured his deal, with him taking a pay cut in 2017. While that might seem like a difficult thing to do, the 30-year-old said it did not bother him.
“It was what was best for the team at the time,” he said. “I still love playing and, obviously, it kept me a job.”
Branch admitted he has learned to understand how the NFL works and that, had he not agreed to the change, his spot on the roster was tenuous.
“I wasn’t in a position — I didn’t have any leverage — so it was what was best at the time, and it kept me around,” he said. “I wanted to be a Cardinal, and I’m still here.”
The depth at receiver is something
It seemed like hyperbole last week when Arians was talking up his receiver room, saying there are 12 guys who all deserve to play in the NFL.
Evidently, that’s not the case.
“This is really, legitimately, the first time in a long, long time that I can remember that all the guys — from the drafted guys to the unrestricted free agents — everybody can play,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said, adding there is no one who could be viewed as a camp body. “I will say every single guy in our room right now could play.
“They can run, they can jump, they’ve got good hands; they have what it takes to be an NFL receiver.”
Arizona’s receiver depth is made up of Fitzgerald, John Brown, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, Chad Williams, Aaron Dobson, Brittan Golden, Krishawn Hogan, Jeremy Ross, Larry Clark, Marquis Bundy and Carlton Agudosi, with Andre Ellington also seeing reps there.
“As soon as I stepped in the room I see it’s tons of talent in the room and every guy in that room,” Williams said. “Every guy in the room can play, man, that room is stacked.
“We have guys on top of guys.”
Williams said his goal is to do whatever he can to help, and he appreciates the challenge the team’s depth provides. How things will shake down is anyone’s guess, though Fitzgerald, both Browns and Nelson figure to make the roster, while Williams — a 2017 third-round pick — is likely a shoe-in, as well.
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