Cardinals quarterbacks Carson Palmer (3) and Blaine Gabbert (7) wait for NFL Network's Kurt Warner to take a throw during a bucket challenge Wednesday.
Before Wednesday's minicamp practice began, Carson Palmer – along with the rest of the Cardinals quarterbacks, and cornerback Patrick Peterson – took part in an out-of-season bucket challenge toss.
Kurt Warner was the reason, with the former Cardinals quarterback and current NFL Network analyst on hand to turn out a piece about the team. Warner, not surprisingly took part as well.
It was a chance to have a little fun. Not that Palmer doesn't already this time of year.
The story surrounding Palmer in February was whether he would return to play in 2017. After that, it was about keeping Palmer's offseason throws to a minimum, in the hope his arm will stay strong throughout the season.
For Palmer, though, this isn't a time of year within just to muddle through. He enjoys it, even with games that count months away.
"This time of year you're not getting hit, you're doing a lot of 7-on-7, you're throwing routes versus air, you get to go down to the red zone and third down, and those things are fun," Palmer said. "That competition is enjoyable. This time of year, it's not on 'Monday Night Football.' It's just your group of guys, you're in the (practice) bubble all there together, going against your defense. That part is the enjoyable part."
Palmer was coming off an MVP-type season this time last year. With Palmer's numbers dropping along with a corresponding plummet of the Cardinals' win total, many on a national scale have become Palmer non-believers. ("Everybody has an opinion," coach Bruce Arians said. "They are kind of like a—holes. Most of them stink.")
As he is wont to do, Palmer shrugs such things off. He's the first to admit he isn't the same physically as he was at 25. Confidence, however, is not lacking.
Palmer cut back on his throwing in March, April and May but has – as scheduled – begun to ramp back up. Arians praised some of Palmer's deep throws Wednesday, lamenting the receivers' inability to snare catchable passes.
It won't be until mid-to-late season, Palmer said, until he and the Cardinals really know if the slow rollout of his throwing workouts
will make a difference. But the work continues after Thursday's close of minicamp, even if the Cardinals are officially off until training camp. Palmer will again have some workouts in California with pass catchers – wide receiver John Brown said he plans on making his annual appearance – and he is in a totally different frame of mind than the QB who briefly mulled his future in February.
"The longer you play, the more tired you get, and that fatigue hangs around for a little longer," Palmer said. "But I have a ton of work to do this summer and I'm looking forward to that work. The footwork stuff I have ahead of me is stuff I enjoy. It's stuff I have to do and it's hard but I enjoy that part."
Arians said Palmer was "hungrier" having been reined during OTAs. But Palmer has long emphasized how much he likes the process of quarterbacking as much as quarterbacking in games. The path this offseason might have been altered, but Palmer's perspective has not.
"You have to enjoy it or you only do it for a handful of years," Palmer said. "If you are fighting it or you are forcing yourself to do it, you're probably not in your right mindset to play your best football."
Images from the second minicamp practice of 2017