Clean and efficient, Carson Palmer operates Cardinals offense like well-oiled machine in preseason debut
If you didn’t know any better, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer’s play in Saturday’s preseason opener versus the Kansas City Chiefs resembled that of a player in midseason form and without the accumulated physical and mental rust of languishing on the sidelines as a spectator following a season-ending knee injury nearly a year ago.
Which makes Palmer’s performance in his first action since having surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered versus St. Louis last November all the more impressive.
Though he only played one series versus the Chiefs, Palmer played as if he’s been operating the high-powered Cardinals offense without interruption. His final line: 4-of-4 for 77 yards, with his singular drive spanning seven plays and covering 80 yards, punctuated by a one-yard rushing touchdown by Andre Ellington.
The 12-year NFL veteran summed it up perfectly, calling the series “clean” and “efficient” in the aftermath of Arizona’s 34-19 loss.
“Other than that first run play down on the goal line, it was very efficient, very clean and I thought we executed at a high level,” Palmer said. “That’s what you want. You know you’re not going to get many opportunities and many plays, and the ones you do get, you want to execute them and make sure you’re firing on all cylinders and I think we did that.”
They did, with Palmer exuding confidence and poise despite playing on a surgically repaired knee that had yet been truly tested by an opponent wearing a different jersey prior to Saturday.
If he was nervous, it didn’t show.
“It was an exciting couple day build up to it and just excited to be able to play again and fortunate and thankful and blessed to be able to play,” Palmer said. “But then when I got to the stadium, it was kind of a very focused couple hours before the game and a very focused three or four minutes or however long that drive was.
“Just glad to get the first one out of the way and it didn’t seem like we came away with very many injuries…that’s what you want out of these games, to go out there, execute and be efficient and get away without guys having to miss time.”
In addition to the focus, familiarity also appeared to play a major role in the strength behind Palmer’s outing. Entering his third year in the Cardinals offense orchestrated by the offensive brain trust that is head coach Bruce Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, Palmer admitted that there’s a level of comfort he hasn’t felt perhaps dating back to his time in Cincinnati.
“I think Year 3 in any system is really a big year for you,” Palmer said. “There’s not a lot of new faces other than Mike (Iupati) and Jermaine (Gresham) and J.J. (Nelson). There’s a lot of continuity between our guys and guys have played next to each other for awhile now and been in this system for awhile now and I think we’re right where we need to be. We’ve done a good job and we’ve got a long way to go and there’s a lot of things we need to clean up…maybe not things that showed up on today’s game film, but just things that have happened in practice. We’ll just continue to work at it and get better each week.”
For Palmer, his coaches, his teammates and Cards fans everywhere, however, it was a sight for sore eyes to see the hard work and resiliency pay off this week, with an encouraged and hopeful eye fixated on the future.