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Pressure, Palmer And The Line

Posted Oct 18, 2013

Arians mulls using Massie as Cardinals try to iron out pass protection

Quarterback Carson Palmer gets a pass away in traffic Thursday night against Seattle.

His offensive line mates dispersed for the weekend, right tackle Eric Winston stood in front of his locker Friday when it was suggested if there was anything besides more practice that could help the Cardinals’ pass protection problems.

“What else do you want us to do?” Winston said. “When you are in tough situations, you bring your lunch pail back to work and keep working. There’s no other way to go about it.”

The talent and depth of the Seahawks’ front punctured the Cardinals’ line Thursday night during Seattle’s 34-22 loss. Coach Bruce Arians acknowledged left tackle Bradley Sowell did not play well, although he noted that only center Lyle Sendlein graded out positively in the game of the starting offensive linemen.

Quarterback Carson Palmer continues to struggle – he now has 13 interceptions on the season – and he accepted blame after the Seahawks loss.

“We all need to step up our game,” Palmer said. “Everybody needs to step up their game. Mainly me being the quarterback – that’s your job. We have to keep growing.”

Palmer’s improvement is crucial, although Arians clearly viewed the constant pressure Palmer was under as a mitigating factor.

“I’ve got to give him credit for standing,” Arians said Friday. “When you are hit that many times and you still stand in there … looking back, neither interception was his fault whatsoever. Overall he protected the football like he needed to. We’ve got to make better plays.”

When it was suggested Palmer’s handful of scrambles were part of the game plan, Arians quickly corrected it.

“He’s running for his life,” Arians said. “That’s not his style.”

Profootballfocus.com had Palmer getting hit 23 times in the game, in addition to seven sacks. Arians was frustrated with the offense overall, saying it was the first time in 20 years on offense of his did not have an explosive play in either the run or the pass.

Arians hinted at some change up front. Bobby Massie, who started every game at right tackle as a rookie last season, was active for the first time Thursday and Arians said “I’d like to get him out there some.”

Massie said he hadn’t heard anything specific, although he confirmed he has still been working in practice on the right side, behind Winston. Arians did say Winston allowed too many pressures Thursday.

Rookie guard Earl Watford is further away, Arians said. The coach added that Nate Potter struggled again at guard once he replaced Daryn Colledge, who had left with a back injury.

Whatever changes might come, it won’t be at quarterback, not with the way Arians is talking about Palmer. After the game, Arians quickly said no when asked if he considered a QB change against Seattle.

Winston stressed the problems stretch across the offensive unit, although he knows the line must improve.

“I’ve always said protection is an 11-man effort, just like running the ball is,” Winston said. “You can’t have one guy taking turns getting beat or not doing what he’s supposed to do or getting out of the gap.

“We’re going to take the brunt of it up front because we should. We’ve got to play better up front.”

It isn’t even the sacks, Winston said, as much as giving Palmer a cleaner pocket from which to throw. Do that, he said, and the sack total will probably shrink too.

“We are professionals,” Winston said, “and at the end of the day there are no excuses.”


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