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With Carson Palmer, Calais Campbell calls Arizona Cardinals ‘true contender’

With a new year brings new expectations and a belief that the goals from last year can still be attained in the year ahead. With regard to the Arizona Cardinals, the new year brings a hope for good health and the belief and expectation that the Cardinals can once again return to the ranks of the NFC’s elite.

Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell is a huge part of that hope (both literally and figuratively), but perhaps an even bigger piece to that prospective puzzle is the health and well-being of quarterback Carson Palmer.

Before being lost for the season with a torn ACL in a Week 6 win versus St. Louis, Palmer was the catalyst for a team sporting a spotless 6-0, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes (62.9) for 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns against only three interceptions.

With a clean bill of health entering the 2015 season, Campbell told NFL Network’s Dan Hellie and Brian Baldinger that Palmer has the look of a player ready to return to his 2014 form.

“I know the trainers try to slow him down a little bit, but he’s proved to them that he’s 100 percent,” Campbell said. “In mini camp he was 100 percent live. Obviously, we can’t touch the quarterback in practice — not that I wanted to — but he’s out there making every throw and looking good.”

Campbell went even further, saying — unsurprisingly — that with Palmer now appearing healthy and ready to return, the Cardinals transform into a team with serious staying power when it comes the playoff hunt to come.

“With him under center, we know we’re a contender. A true contender,” Campbell said. “His ability to throw the ball, see the defenses and lead the team…I mean he’s such a natural leader.”

Of the defense, the 6-foot-8, 282-pound defensive cornerstone also added that despite the void left by departed defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, new defensive coordinator James Bettcher is ready to step in and enjoy success in his recently promoted role.

“He’s a big loss and he’s a great coach, but he groomed (James) Bettcher to take over,” Campbell said of Bowles. “Coach ‘JB’, he’s a good coach. He’s very hands on and X’s and O’s and I really feel like he’s going to do a great job.”