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Carson Palmer Throws, But QB Question Remains

Stanton throwing but hasn't cleared concussion test as Cardinals wait to decide starter


Quarterback Carson Palmer (3) goes through position drills Wednesday as fellow QBs Drew Stanton (5), Logan Thomas (6) and Dennis Dixon (4) look on.

The quarterback carousel has spun for the Cardinals before. That, Lyle Sendlein remembers, whether it was 2010 flipping Max Hall, Derek Anderson or even rookie John Skelton in the lineup, or 2012, when the names were Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley or Brian Hoyer.

The veteran center wants to know who will start at quarterback Sunday against the Redskins too, a reality that cannot be answered yet. But it's still much different than before.

"We know who our guys are and we have all the faith in the world in their abilities," Sendlein said. "We just have to get them back on the field."

The good news Wednesday was that all four quarterbacks on the Cardinals' roster – including new practice-squad signee Dennis Dixon

– were at practice in uniform, sporting helmets and throwing at least a little. Sure, the work was limited for Carson Palmer and his nerve-damaged shoulder and for Drew Stanton, who was cleared to throw a little but has yet to pass the concussion protocol. It was a start, at least.

But nothing has been determined as far as a starter. Rookie Logan Thomas still ended up taking all the first-team reps at practice and for now, that really is the only concrete thing the Cardinals know.

Stanton was not available to speak to the media Wednesday, but Palmer dutifully came out to update everyone yet again on his shoulder pre-practice. It was much better, he said. He was able to throw at about 35 or 40 percent velocity on Tuesday, he said, and the attempt will be to ramp it up daily.

The hope is that he can practice fully either Thursday or Friday. At the same time, Palmer said he will likely fly back to Denver Friday afternoon to revisit the MAT (Muscle Activation Technique) work he was put through when he went there last weekend.

That would not preclude Palmer from playing. But it speaks to the uncertainty he and the team is going through with his injury.

"I just have to be able to throw a ball," Palmer said. "Let loose and throw it hard. That's basically it."

The game plan is the game plan, coach Bruce Arians said. The idea is to come up with an outline "to beat Washington," built around first- and third-down earlier this week and then red zone, short yardage and goal line work Wednesday night.

"We'll formulate those plans to beat them and then trim back if we have to because of the volume or things (the QBs) don't see,"

Arians said. "You do the same thing with Carson and Drew, so it wouldn't be any different if Logan is the starter."

Thomas acknowledged that if he has to start, it was a big deal for him to have played about a quarter in Denver to shake off the first-time jitters already. Getting the reps in practice will help him as well, if he has to play.

Thomas didn't play very well against the Broncos, looking overwhelmed as a first-time rookie usually does while completing 1-of-8 passes. The Cardinals are hoping if he has to start, he can make a significant jump forward in his progress.

"It's about repetition," Thomas said. "I can't put a number on it, but it's about repetition. That's where the majority of the jump will come from."

If Thomas is starting, that would mean Palmer and Stanton can't play. It would also mean Dixon would be elevated to the 53-man roster as a backup.

Dixon played under Arians from 2008-2011 in Pittsburgh. Arians said he liked Dixon, who was on the Ravens and Bills practice squads the past two seasons before the Bills cut him in late August, a lot when he had him in Pittsburgh.

"He was able to come right in and spit most of (the offense) back, so he gives us an option," Arians said.

Dixon said his first meeting with Arians took him back to his "go-to plays" in Arians' offense. He said remembering the offense was like riding a bike, but then clarified himself – especially since he could find himself one play away from playing Sunday.

"It's difficult," Dixon said. "This system has its unique wrinkles. But you are professional and you have to be able to answer the bell."

At this point, the Cardinals are hoping they have everyone available to answer the bell. If Palmer does play, Arians said there will be no restrictions or conservative play-calling.

"No," Arians said. "If he's playing, he's Carson."

Arians paused.

"Slide better."

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