Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer warms up during Wednesday's practice.
Carson Palmer wasn't in an altogether unfamiliar spot on Thursday night, as he sat on the couch and watched football with his family.
The problem was that the Cardinals were the showcased team that night. The team's quarterback missed the 33-21 win over the 49ers with a concussion but was back practicing Wednesday and will start against the Jets on Monday night.
He said it was a mix of emotions as a viewer – disappointed he couldn't play but happy to see the team perform well. The hope now is that he returns to the lineup and stays there the rest of the way,
"You always want your leader out there," coach Bruce Arians said. "And he is the leader."
Palmer said the concussion he suffered against the Rams was the first of his life. He didn't spend much time dwelling on it, instead hoping to get cleared as quickly as possible. Palmer said he never felt like the injury would keep him out for a prolonged stretch.
"My wife was definitely freaked out, but I was ready to play if there was a Sunday game," he said. "That is part of our reality as football players. You play long enough, you see enough guys that retire or continue to play through them, or whatever it may be. The balance is you go with how you feel and you go with what the doctors say.
"Everybody is extremely cautious with it. You just trust in the doctors and what the professionals are telling you about it, and that's how you cope with it."
Palmer sent a text message to Arians within 10 minutes of the game ending, congratulating him on the win. Now he's back in the swing of things with the rest of the team.
"I was waiting around for what felt like forever for Wednesday to get here," Palmer said.
MATHIEU STILL MAKING HIS WAY BACK
Safety Tyrann Mathieu returned to his slot cornerback role on Thursday against the 49ers, but admitted he was "sloppy in coverage at times." He is going to remain in that position moving forward, with incremental progress expected as he gets further removed from last year's torn ACL.
The Cardinals were given five days off before practice on Wednesday, and while most players probably enjoyed the break, Mathieu wanted to be on the field.
"For me, it's all about getting those reps," he said. "I think that's really the only way I'll get back to form. Playing man-to-man in practice, covering guys in practice, making plays in practice."
After Mathieu tore ligaments in his other knee as a rookie, he said it took him until about Week 9 or 10 of the following season to get back into a groove. This knee injury wasn't as severe and "I feel like this time around I'll hit my stride way quicker." It's still not an easy wait.
"A lot of times you can be hard on yourself," Mathieu said. "Five, six games pass and you don't seem to make a play. And every play that comes to you seems to slip right out of your hands. It's all about being patient and being mindful it's a long season, but at the same time holding yourself accountable, holding yourself to a high standard."
AFTER LONG LAYOFF, A 'RAGGEDY' PRACTICE
The extended time off got the Cardinals out of their routine and, not surprisingly, resulted in a haphazard practice.
While Arians singled out linebacker Chandler Jones and tight end Jermaine Gresham as players who stood out, he said the young guys, especially, didn't look good.
"It looked like a team that had five days off," Arians said. "A little raggedy. Thank goodness it was a bonus day. It really starts tomorrow."
The Cardinals are practicing four times this week because their game against the Jets is on Monday.
IUPATI MISSES PRACTICE
Guard Mike Iupati (ankle) didn't practice on Wednesday. If he misses the Jets game, the Cardinals will use a pair of backup guards – Earl Watford and John Wetzel – since Evan Mathis was placed on injured reserve earlier this week.
Arians said defensive tackle Josh Mauro (chest) practiced while tight end Darren Fells (stinger) could return Thursday.
The first official injury report of the week isn't released until Thursday because of the Monday game.