GLENDALE, Ariz. – Quarterback Carson Palmer, now in his fifth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media several times during training camp.
Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through:
Is there anything tangible you’re looking to do, especially after last year the offense didn’t click in the preseason?
“Efficiency. You’re only going to get a certain amount of plays and you want to maximize those plays, not that you need to go out and have seven plays for 188 yards of offense. You want to go out and be efficient. Sometimes when you’re backed up, the best thing to do is change the field position. It’s not to go for 99 yards. But in these preseason games, you want to maximize all those opportunities without being greedy and without playing outside the system.”
Are you at that point in camp where you want to go against another defense?
“I haven’t felt that yet, although we have been in camp for a long time and a lot longer than most teams. It’s such a great challenge going against our defense. We see so many different things. There’s days where you just don’t know what you’re going to see. At least in games, you know this is kind of the scheme that they run and this is what we’re going to expect. There’s days where we see completely different fronts that we haven’t talked about or covered and they’re trying different things, so it’s a tremendous challenge. You’ve got, from Pat (Peterson) who’s having the best camp I think I’ve ever seen him have, Ty (Mathieu) is in the same boat, you got a secondary that’s really, really talented; they go after the football; and you got two of the best pass rushers that we’ll face all season every single day. It’s been a great challenge. Really haven’t even been to the point yet where I’ve thought about that. It’s been a great challenge for us.”
With Byron Leftwich calling plays this week, does that impact you at all who is calling plays when it’s not the head coach?
“No. It’s a different sounding voice but I think Byron and B.A. (Bruce Arians) see the game very similarly. Byron doesn’t have a ton of, or much, history calling plays but just his knowledge of the offense, his knowledge of being the guy that is hearing it through his headset is going to serve him and give him some experience. I’m looking forward to it. I think Bryon’s got a tremendous future calling plays, whatever it may be. But I don’t think there’s going to be—we’re still going to have the same gameplan, it’s still the same set of plays that we would enter a normal game with.”
How was he calling plays yesterday?
“Tough to gauge but I think he’s going to do a great job.”
Is that kind of crazy that he’s calling plays and the two of you were in the same draft class?
“It is a little odd. It’s even more odd that I’m older than he is which I just found out the other day, from Google. But yeah, it is a little bit. It’s just different. It’s something I haven’t experienced.”
What made you want to Google his age?
“I got into an argument with somebody. I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m older than him’ and then Google settled the bet.”
Have you ever wondered what it might’ve been like to play in the NFL when quarterbacks called their own plays?
“I’ve done it a bunch. I was in a no-huddle system for seven, eight years. I’ve had a ton of experience doing it so I know what it’s like and I enjoyed it, but I’d rather somebody else have that stress and pressure. I got enough stress and pressure.”
How would you evaluate David Johnson as a pass-blocker right now?
“I think he’s really, really good. I think he’s improved a lot. I think he’s done a great job studying what he did last year and some of the weaknesses he had last year and improved upon those.”
How much has he grown in that area?
“The first thing I noticed was he kind of had a go-to move, not that it was predictable but he had a go-to way to attack a defender and I think he’s more multiple now. He’s tried a bunch of different ways to pick up a blitz from wherever it may be coming from. He’s got more weapons in his quiver, I guess.”
How much do you trust Troy Niklas?
“Yeah, he’s had a great camp. With Troy, it’s just he’s had such bad luck. It’s not like anybody has ever thought to question his toughness. When you break a bone in your hand or, I don’t know exactly what he did to his ankle, but you break a bone in your ankle, that’s just bum luck. We’ve never questioned his toughness or his talent and I think him getting the reps he’s gotten, the experience he’s gotten, he’s gotten better each week, so I’m really excited to see what kind of year he can have.”
Good personality, too.
“Troy’s the 19-year-old kid in a 24-year-old body. He is fun to have around.”
Why do you think Peterson is having such a good camp?
“Just performance. It’s the best I’ve seen him, there’s no doubt. I told him that the other day. I think it’s his seventh year and like a fine wine he’s aged well in those seven years. He’s just had great practice after great practice. He’s contested every single ball, not that he’s broken up every pass but he is right on top of it. He’s just looked really, really good.”
What is it like in film sessions when Johnson makes one of those moves? Do guys still react?
“No. It’s the same reaction that Larry (Fitzgerald) gets when he makes one of those catches that everybody in the stands that’s watching practice kind of, ‘Ooh!’ That quick response. You don’t get that from guys on the team. They’re used to see it. It’s kind of the same way with Dave now. You almost expect it so it doesn’t surprise you.”
How has Drew Stanton helped you?
“How doesn’t he help me? Just in every way, almost like a psychologist sometimes. When you’re going through a certain play, a certain protection or whatever it may be, he’s a sounding board almost. He’s extremely, extremely bright aside from football but he sees the game just brilliantly. He could be a great coach—I doubt he would ever do it, but he could be a phenomenal coach. He’s helped me a ton just over the last few years from fundamentals to technique to seeing certain pressures to film study. I’ll do my film study, he’ll do his film study and he’ll kind of give me a concise version of what he saw; five pages of notes he’ll put it in a paragraph so it’s just not overkill which makes it really easy. When you’re the starter and you get a very concise answer to kind of what a team is trying to do or what a defense is trying to do; when I have a bunch of pages of notes and a bunch of different thoughts, he just has a great way of delivering information which I think is what great coaches and teachers do so he helps me in every facet.”
Is the length of your relationship an asset, too?
“I’ve played with a lot of guys for a year or two here and there and then you start to get to the point where you’re really starting to trust somebody because everybody’s got opinions and ideas. I’m at the point now where everything he says he doesn’t waste my time with something during a timeout, during the game. If he says something, there’s a reason behind it and that’s developed over time and repetition and games and practices and offseasons and all those things.”
How long did it take for the two of you to get to that point?
“Years. I don’t trust easily, and he’s earned it. This is going on five years now so, like I said, there’s times you’ll play with somebody and it’s kind of in one ear and out the other because you don’t quite have that history together. Five years or four years is a good amount of history. I know if he has something to say on the sideline, in the game, whatever it may be, on a Wednesday as we’re preparing, there’s a reason for it and it’s something I need to really look at and think about.”
Is there something he did to earn your trust?
“No, just like I said, repetition, over time.”
What does it mean to have an experienced quarterback like Blaine Gabbert on the depth chart?
“He’s another guy that’s got a lot of experience. He’s played in a lot of games. I don’t know how many games, but probably started two or three seasons worth of games. Very, very smart guy also. Really, really sharp. Sees the game really well. It’s a great room. And then Trevor Knight, who is an awesome kid and awesome person to have around. We have a lot of fun with him. He’s quite a bit younger than everybody in the room but he’s been phenomenal. It’s one of the best rooms I can think of that I’ve been in.”
What does having fun with Knight mean?
“Uh, there’s some personal stuff. Some confidential information, but he’s a great rookie, there’s no doubt.”
With 15 more touchdowns you’re going to pass three Hall of Famers: Johnny Unitas, Warren Moon and John Elway, on the all-time career touchdowns list. What are your thoughts on that?
“I don’t know. I’m honored to have played as long as I have and had with the opportunities I’ve had. Those are three guys that, not so much Unitas just because of my time, but the other guys I loved watching play and am a fan of all three of them, obviously, so it would be a great honor to get past those guys.”
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