Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (left) said he's in the "middle of the road" in quarterback years.
When the Cardinals traded for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer in 2013, new coach Bruce Arians called this the last stop for both before they strolled off into the sunset together.
The pairing worked so well for the first year-and-a-half that the two sides agreed to a three-year contract extension for Palmer through 2017, which seemed to push the retirement party back indefinitely. Two days later, Palmer tore his ACL against the Rams, which made him wonder aloud whether the end – for him, at least -- would come quicker and choppier than hoped.
"We were 9-1," Palmer said Wednesday. "If you make a run, you just don't know. You can't predict the future. I definitely was hoping
that wasn't the case, but I've been around long enough. I've seen crazy things happen. Guys get let go that you never thought would get let go. Guys stick around that you never thought should be there. I've seen the ups, the downs, the positives, the negatives and seen a lot."
The Cardinals never considered releasing Palmer, 35, and he's since come back with a vengeance. He was fully cleared for training camp and hasn't had any playing time restrictions in the preseason.
"We're three years in from that date (of Arians' proclamation)," said Palmer, who will be 36 in December. "I don't like to use the word 'old' though. You can use it when you talk about coaches. I'm in my mid-to-early thirties. And in quarterback years, that's middle of the road in my book."
Arians is 62 but coming off his second Coach of the Year award in three seasons. Considering Palmer had the second-highest quarterback rating of his career in 2014, neither seems any closer to that sunset stroll.
"Neither one of us want to ride out there too soon," Arians said. "That's a big desert. There are a lot of good things to do – hang out in Scottsdale on the way to the desert – that we'd like to do a little bit more of."
While the relationship is going well enough that it could last through at least the end of Palmer's contract, Palmer still has a keen sense of his own football mortality, and that of Arians, other coaches and other players.
"I don't think Bruce is going to coach for 20 more years," Palmer said. "I'm definitely not going to play for 10 years. I think everybody in this locker room recognizes the opportunity we have."
ARIANS "WOULDN'T BE SHOCKED" IF FLOYD PLAYS IN OPENER
Wide receiver Michael Floyd has been doing conditioning work as he continues to recover from the three dislocated fingers in his hand, but hasn't yet started with football duties. The injury was so unique that Arians hesitated to put any timetable on it originally, and while
he's still unsure of a possible return, Arians said "I wouldn't be shocked if he's ready" for the regular season opener against the Saints.
Floyd was also hesitant to put a timetable on it "but I think I'll be back sooner rather than later."
"I haven't done too much as far as catching," Floyd added. "Just getting the strength back into my fingers is the crucial thing I need to focus on."
While Floyd is on the comeback trail, there was some bad news for oft-injured tight end Troy Niklas, who reinjured his hamstring and will be shelved for an undetermined length of time. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring), running back Chris Johnson (hamstring) and cornerback Jerraud Powers (hamstring) missed practice on Wednesday but may return by the end of the week, Arians said.
Guard Earl Watford (ankle) also sat but could be back Thursday as he tries to make a run at the starting right tackle job.
THE LURE OF JARED VELDHEER'S BEER
Competing conclusions have been drawn as to whether the beer home-brewed by left tackle Jared Veldheer is readily available to his teammates and coaches.
"He won't bring me any," Arians said. "Damn, I got to get some. I think he wants me to buy it or something."
Palmer said he's been a regular guest at Veldheer's house, where he is served free of charge.
"That's the first time coach Arians has ever been wrong because Jared is a very good sharer," Palmer deadpanned. "He'll tell you his brew house is always open and I've visited it multiple times."
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders from preseason game No. 2 against the Chargers