Cards VP Player Personnel Terry McDonough: I wouldn’t trade Carson Palmer for anybody

Aug 14, 2015, 12:26 PM

It’s that time of year, people.

That time of year where fans and media members alike parse sentences and read between the lines in order to obtain the straight, no filter news on their favorite teams and players.

Fortunately for fans of the Arizona Cardinals, the team’s vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is here to make all of our lives easier.

McDonough joined Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday morning to discuss his opinions of the team in the training camp build up before their first preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs this Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium.  Chief among topics addressed by McDonough was the rebound effort by Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who has drawn rave reviews in training camp after coming off a season-ending knee injury last season.

According to McDonough, Palmer is the closest thing the Cards have to a sacred cow.

“I’m going to say something right now that I’m sure some of the listeners are going to say, ‘Yeah, right,’” McDonough said.  “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.  He’s 13-2 in his last 15 games as a starter for us.  13-2.  He got hurt last year and you could tell how devastated he was.  Two days later he decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to out and outwork everybody I possibly can and lead this team to great things next year.’  I know for a fact he put four, five, six, seven hours a day since the time of his injury to look how he looks so far in camp.

“What I didn’t know about Carson Palmer is, from afar, you can judge him when he was in Cincinnati and then Oakland and not really know the substance of who he is, but when you understand the man’s integrity and his leadership, his drive and his commitment to win…I’ve been in this league 25 years and I’ve never had the good fortune of being around a quarterback that, to me, has everything you need to succeed.  The naysayers will say he’s never won a playoff game, but I’m telling you guys, he’s not a good quarterback, he’s a great quarterback.”

Palmer isn’t only one who has impressed McDonough to this point, however.  While he admitted it’s difficult to single out individual players at this point due to the fact 90 players are on the active roster at the moment, he did tab a specific position group that has caught his attention.

“I think the one group as whole that I think is really getting better this year is our tight end group,” McDonough said.  “You guys have seen Number 80, Ifeanyi Momah, out there…we’re actually very fortunate in that we got him in the camp that the NFL put on in the spring and it was right here in our backyard at our stadium.  Our pro department did a great job, we signed him and he’s been a guy who’s bounced around on different practice squads because he’s a little bit of a tweener between a very big wide receiver and a little bit of a skinnier tight end.  But as you guys have seen out there at practice, he’s made plays since the day he’s been here.

“Another tight end that’s done a nice job for us is Darren Fells; a former basketball player that a year ago you wondered if he was too raw and this year he’s quieted any kind of skepticism that we had that we don’t have anymore.  That guy is really, really emerging.  If you look at our tight end group, we have four guys we think that can play and a year ago that was a little bit of a concern.  Guys are getting better, they’re working hard…there’s so many guys to mention, but that’s the one group that stands out.”

When it comes to rookies, two players generating their fair share of buzz through the first two weeks of camp are wide receiver J.J. Nelson and defensive lineman Rodney Gunter.  Of course, neither player has yet to take a regular season snap in the NFL, let alone one in a preseason game, meaning McDonough is reserving those high-fives around the front office for after these standout rookies prove it on the field.

“He’s done a very nice job, he has a lot of speed, he has excellent ball skills, the coaches did a phenomenal job with him,” McDonough said of Nelson.  “Bruce (Arians) knew him going back — his son was at Alabama-Birmingham — but you have to be careful with high-fives.  You can’t get too excited, but we are very pleased with what he’s done and he’s definitely flashed out there and he has an opportunity to be a weapon for us.  But high-fives?  Nah, you have stay a little more level than that.  Now, if he turns out like John Brown last year and catches winning touchdowns, then I’m jumping on [Arians] in the box and going bananas and all that.  We’ll save the high-fives for when he catches a winning touchdown pass.

“Just like J.J., Rodney has a lot of talent.  He’s turned heads here so far, but again, like J.J. and the rest of these rookies, Rodney has to prove it.  Coach (Brentson) Buckner has done an amazing job with him and you can see every day at practice how big and powerful he is, but he has a platform this weekend to show, ‘Okay, all these great things they’re saying about me, now I’m going to go out and do it.'”

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