Carson Chats: The Cardinals’ prep for Falcons has regular-season feel

Aug 23, 2017, 4:30 PM | Updated: Aug 24, 2017, 5:09 pm
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) tosses hit cap to fans after a preseason NFL footba...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) tosses hit cap to fans after a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Bears won 24-23. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Carson Palmer, Cardinals quarterback

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:

What would you like to get out of this fourth preseason game?

“A lot of things. You’d like to go down and score every possession, just get in a really good rhythm, build confidence, build more continuity playing together in a game atmosphere and situation. It’s a great test. It’s a very good defense, very good offense, obviously. There’s going to be a lot of energy. I think this is the first game there, I assume, right? So, yeah, a lot of energy. Kind of a regular season feel because of the excitement with the new stadium and all that. Just really looking forward to getting out and playing and continuing to grow as a group and as a team.”

What can you tell about this offense so far even though it’s been pretty vanilla?

“Yeah, very vanilla. We’ve got a lot of stuff we’ve been working that’s just not time to show. We’ve spent different segments of camp working on different things, different schemes, different plays. We’ve gone through camp and seen a ton of different looks for a couple of days, sometimes one day, sometimes three practices with different fronts and different protections, issues that come up with those fronts. It’s been a great camp. We’ve seen a ton, we’ve seen a ton from our defense, and I think we’re in a good place.”

What does the Falcons defense do as far as a test for the offensive line?

“Very fast defense, very good defense. Every guy upfront with their ones and a couple of their twos — (Courtney) Upshaw seems like a two on film when he’s playing but he plays like a one. Vic Beasley is a great pass rusher. You go across the board, there’s really good players. Looking back at the film from the previous year, the situation (John) Wetzel was put in — he was starting at right guard, then he started at left tackle and then he started at right tackle, I believe. It’s hard. It’s as hard as that position can get going from one side of the line in one position to the other side at a completely different position and then back to the other side of the line. It’s just tough when you don’t have that continuity, and then you go into a loud stadium like that and play against a pass rush like that, it’s really, really hard to get a good rhythm and get comfortable playing next to a guy when you don’t do it week after week. I like the position we’re in right now. Guys have been playing the same spots all of the camp. We’ve been healthy. It’s a great test upfront.”

What do you think of Kerwynn Williams and what he’s had to do to remain on the roster?

“I love Kerwynn. The first thing that jumps out at you is just his attitude and his joy and passion to play the game. He’s a great teammate and a great guy in the locker room. He’s one of those guys that’s always keeping the mood light but very, very serious about his job. When it’s time to practice he works his butt off. When it’s time to play it seems like every time he touches the ball he’s getting five, six, seven, eight yards. He’s explosive. He’s hard to find behind the line of scrimmage because he is small. He’s got a very quick burst and breakaway speed and he can catch the ball. I love everything about him and love seeing a guy that’s not a first or second round pick make a team through the special teams, work his way up. He’s just one of those guys you want to get carries but it’s tough to take carries away from Dave (Johnson) and get him in the game, but when he’s gotten his opportunities he’s done great.”

And now he’s handling punt returns?

“I can’t wait. I asked him why haven’t you been doing this since you got here. But he got here late, he was a midseason signing, I think, two years ago, maybe, and we already had the returning situation kind of ironed out, but I can’t wait to see what he does when he gets back there.”

Because you’re game-planning for the Falcons does this week feel any different or does it still feel like training camp?

“Totally. Just the way we prepare for this game is different. Every other week you’re going against your own defense. This week we’re starting to see looks that are Falcon looks. We’re watching film on them. It’s not a complete game plan week but it’s as close as you can get to a game plan week.”

How has your game-planning with the head coach changed or developed since you got here?

“It’s consistent. He puts stuff in and takes stuff out as he sees fit. He gives you reasonings. There’s a couple of reasons we have a couple of plays in this week but it’s very consistent.”

What have you noticed about Blaine Gabbert just from watching him every day?

“I  had worked out with him a handful of times a couple of years ago in the offseason. Very aware of his skill-set. He’s as talented as it gets throwing the football and moving around the pocket and on the run, so I haven’t been surprised. I had a chance to work with him three years ago and for three years known the ability he has.”

Why do you think he wasn’t as successful is some of his other stops?

“To be honest, I don’t know those situations, those offensive schemes, the players. I know a little bit about San Francisco just being in the same division but really don’t know much about the offense that they were running.”

From the outside it looks like he’s done a nice job. Do you see the same thing?

“He’s done a great job. He’s had a great camp. He got there late, probably midway through OTAs, I want to say, but he’s picked it up extremely quick. He’s very bright, and like I said, he’s as talented as they come throwing the ball.”

Kind of a big picture question: As you look forward, where is this franchise once you, Larry Fitzgerald and Bruce Arians decide to step away?

“I just think of the two young guys that we drafted in the first and second round this year. Pat’s (Peterson) a young player, Ty’s (Mathieu) a young player, (Robert) Nkemdiche is a young player. There’s a lot of youth on this team and a lot of high picks that are still in their first handful of years. You go across the board, there’s some great vets, guys like Karlos (Dansby), guys like Larry, Jared Veldheer. You got Dave Johnson going into year three, I want to say. There’s a really good mix of veteran leadership that has, and will continue, to help develop along with the coaches these young guys. I mean, the future is as bright as it can be. Those picks, those are hits. D.J. (Humphries) is just kind of coming into his own. He’s in his second, no, third year. There’s a lot of high picks that were great picks that are young players that are continuing to improve, so I think the future is very bright.”

How much more fun is it to game plan and challenge yourself mentally than just knocking off the rust off?

“It’s just the monotony of training camp and the monotony of Pat over there and Ty over there. Just seeing different players, going to a different stadium in a different environment, going on the road where it’s loud and it’s fun to go into those environments. It’s great. We’ve been champing at the bit to play again and we have an opportunity — it still seems very far away but in reality, right around the corner.”

Will you have time to check out the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium?

“Yeah. I can’t wait to see it. We went to Minnesota last year and got a chance to see it, beautiful stadium. I’ve heard a lot of good things. I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

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Carson Chats: The Cardinals’ prep for Falcons has regular-season feel