Quarterback Carson Palmer scrambles during Monday night's win.
Carson Palmer moved and juked and sidestepped and (kind of) sprinted again and again Monday night, and it was hard not to notice.
"He was very frisky," coach Bruce Arians said of his quarterback. "He looked younger."
At 34, Palmer is not a guy who likes to leave the pocket or even move within it. He didn't really do it much at age 24 either. Yet he had 29 yards rushing on four attempts against the Chargers – three for 30, if you don't count the final kneeldown – which was a career-high.
In Palmer's previous 11 seasons, Palmer didn't have 29 yards rushing total in four of them. He had only three yards rushing last
"That felt great," Palmer said. "It's been a long time since I've done that. High school, probably."
The mobility meant a lot. At no time did it mean more than the Cardinals' game-winning touchdown drive. Palmer directed a 91-yard march, but it wouldn't have happened if he hadn't raced for a 12-yard gain on third-and-10 from his own 9-yard line. The heroics of the end would've been impossible otherwise.
It wasn't just the scrambles, though. Palmer did a keen Ben Roethlisberger impression more than a few times during the game, somehow slithering away from would-be sacks to buy time. Sometimes it was enough to get rid of the ball. A couple others turned into completions, like his five-yard touchdown pass to running back Stepfan Taylor.
"He made a lot of plays with his feet, which is fun to see, I guess," center Lyle Sendlein said. "Definitely better than the alternative. Especially don't want him getting hit."
Both Palmer and Arians were happy with the offensive line play overall. Palmer downplayed his movement, born from necessity and not completely a lock to repeat itself.
"They weren't going to let us throw the ball down the field a lot and there were a lot of times where they were doing some pick plays
up front and getting a ton of depth," Palmer said. "There were some opportunities to get out of the pocket and just keep the chains moving."
Arians joked that Palmer's early pre-game outfit, caused from a lost bet to the other quarterbacks, might have contributed to Palmer's youth movement. Apparently, Palmer was sporting a torn T-shirt, short shorts and a headband – alas, no photos are available – and Arians said it was "hilarious."
Less hilarious, once Palmer started running around was the collision he induced with a Chargers defensive back as he tried to bull his way to a first down on one of his runs. That Arians would prefer not to see, even with the benefit of Palmer on the move.
"He kept excellent composure back there," left tackle Jared Veldheer said. "To be able to side step left, side step right, step up – it was just awesome pocket mechanics.
"Ideally, you'd like to just give him all the time in the world to just stay in that pocket. Then when he gets out, it's like, 'Get down. We need you for the year.' "
Never has Palmer run for 100 yards in a season, with 93 in 2009 his career-high. A man can dream though. After all, the Cardinals, once in each of the last two training camps, have run a read-option play with Palmer. Sure, it's to give a look to the defense rather than install it in the offense playbook, but you never know.
These things can blossom in strange ways.
"Yeah, the wishbone," Sendlein said. "We're headed for the wishbone."
Arians said running back Andre Ellington will wear a boot on his injured left foot so it can "calm down" after playing on it and he'll probably not practice Wednesday. Then he will try and go Thursday and Friday to get ready for the Giants game. …
Linebacker John Abraham is going through the concussion protocol, so he'll be day to day this week. Arians said DE Frostee Rucker will not practice Wednesday with his calf injury and looks doubtful to play in New York. Punter Dave Zastudil, with his bad groin, is day to day …
The Cardinals added CB Teddy Williams and RB Chris Rainey to the practice squad. WR Kevin Cone was cut from the practice squad and RB Dominique Williams was placed on practice squad-injured list.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders at the Monday Night Football opener against the Chargers