The "Football Life" episode of Carson Palmer airs initially tonight on NFL Network at 5 p.m. Arizona time. I'm sure it will be repeated at some point (and if you do not have NFL Network, if you subscribe to Game Pass -- click here, and how's that for a plug -- you not only have access to replay every NFL game all season (including coaches film), you also can watch all the NFL Films' shows on demand. You know, like Carson Palmer's "Football Life" episode.)
I had a chance to preview the episode already, and it is a) really well done, as usual and b) really drives home the kind of guy Palmer is. Getting to know him over the last few years, I, like everyone who gets to know him a little, understands what a good guy he is. It's funny, because a chunk of the show talks about how many fans didn't like him, and there was a certain view of him before he arrived in Arizona. But he was always great, and that comes across in the show.
The other part that struck me -- the missed opportunity the Cardinals had in 2014 when his ACL gave out and he was lost for the season. That 2014 year got lost a bit because Palmer rehabbed and was fantastic in 2015, helping drive that team to the best record in franchise history and an appearance in the NFC title game. But there was definitely a feeling that 2014 might have been even better. They were 9-1 at one point. But without Palmer -- and later, without Drew Stanton, who also got hurt -- the season just fizzled into a sad Wild Card loss in Carolina.
What does this all have to do with Friday before the Rams? (Other than it is Friday before the Rams' game.) Well, Palmer's ACL was lost in 2014 against the Rams, albeit non-contact. And the Rams ended Palmer's Cardinals and NFL career last year by breaking his arm in London. It was hard not to draw connections to the Rams and Palmer's tenure in Arizona.
-- As for Sunday, the Cardinals travel back to the L.A. Coliseum. Last year, of course, they didn't go there for the road trip "at" the Rams. Last year it was Twickenham Stadium, which was a cool week up until the blowout handed to the Cards and the permanent loss of Palmer. The last time the Cards played the Rams in L.A., they blew out the Rams. But both teams had different quarterbacks and different coaches. Both teams are radically different considering that was only 18 regular-season games ago. (That was also a game in which David Johnson suffered a knee injury that was so scary at first but turned out to be not quite as scary.)
*Knocks on wood*
-- There are things you can break down for this game, but ultimately, it seems pretty simple to me. If the Cards can't corral Todd Gurley to a certain extent, it's going to be a long day. If Johnson can't break loose, it's going to be a long day. This kind of reminds me of the 2013 game in Seattle, when Bruce Arians ran it and ran it and ran it some more, just to eat clock and shorten the game. The Cards have to be able to generate some first downs and keep possession.
-- Defensive coordinator Al Holcomb said his guys were "salty" after last week. Hopefully that translates to good things. The Cardinals need a bounceback game in particular from linebacker Deone Bucannon, although that whole run defense is in the spotlight. Holcomb and Steve Wilks can't be talking about missing run fits next week.
-- The Cardinals' defense was pretty good last season. And they surrendered 33 and 32 points to the Rams in the two meetings. Sean McVay's team can do so many things well.
-- Raiders tight end Jared Cook had 180 yards last week. Ricky Seals-Jones, what say you?
-- It was a little surprising to see that Sam Bradford hadn't yet faced the Rams, his former team, in the three seasons he has been gone (and he played almost all of two of those years.)
-- So Larry Fitzgerald put his house (one of his houses, actually) up for sale. I haven't had a chance yet, but I need to tell Fitz I've got to pass. Kids in college and all that.
-- Feels like it probably is too soon to get defensive end Markus Golden back on the field -- he hasn't practiced fully all week, and not since before he tore his ACL last October. But it sure seems like he's close to playing. There's always a caveat on these returns from major injuries though (the same goes for tight end Jermaine Gresham). Being cleared to get into a game, and being able to play like you did before the injury are usually separate things.
-- Fitzgerald was asked, as a team leader, if there was anything he had to tell his teammates to help them move on from last week. "What happened last week?" Fitz deadpanned. He knows the deal.
"The biggest thing is you can't overreact (to one game)," Fitz said later.
Talk to you Sunday.