Quarterback Carson Palmer has found a comfort level in Bruce Arians' offense, and it's tangibly proven by a drop in interceptions.
Bruce Arians knew it would take time for Carson Palmer to grasp the subtleties of his offensive system. He just never told his quarterback that.
"No, there was no patience," Palmer said with a laugh. "He was pedal to the metal. That's just his personality. 'We aren't going to take it easy on you because it's your first year (and) we aren't going to let off.'"
There may have been high demands, but like the quarterbacks before him, Palmer had trouble with the scheme early on. Palmer threw eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions over his first seven games. He completed 60.5 percent of his passes and averaged
248.7 yards per game as the Cardinals started 3-4.
Since then, reality has aligned with expectations, and Palmer's success has played a large role in the team's 5-1 record in its past six games. He has thrown 12 touchdowns to only four interceptions, completing 69.3 percent of his passes and averaging 286.2 passing yards per contest.
He even excelled last week against the Rams – 27-of-32 for 269 yards and a touchdown – despite not throwing a pass in practice all week because of an injured elbow.
Arians' system is complicated, and he said the learning curve has been steep for a variety of signal-callers, from Peyton Manning to Ben Roethlisberger to Tim Couch. Once the process becomes second nature, the offense improves.
"When I go back and study the guys I've had in the first year of this offense, the first eight games the interceptions were up, and the last eight games they dramatically dropped," Arians said. "Once you get the nuances of everything, and you know where the ball is going pre-snap once you see the coverage, and you start trusting the receivers, (interceptions) come down."
Palmer has moved near the middle of the pack in passer rating, ahead of counterparts like Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III and Eli Manning.
"After a while you start to get it," Palmer said. "You hope you start to get it Week 1, but that's not always the case."
Palmer said it helps to practice, which he plans on actually doing more this week.
"Missing a practice is a big deal for a quarterback," Palmer said. "I enjoy practice. It's fun. I don't have to hit anybody. I don't have to tackle anybody. Hand the ball off a couple times, throw the ball around. I don't enjoy missing practice, but I'm going to go out and do a little more than I did last week."
OLD FRIENDS PALMER AND FITZPATRICK REUNITE
Titans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was Palmer's backup from 2007-08 in Cincinnati, and it's clear they developed a special bond. Fitzpatrick said he had a full reservoir of embarrassing stories, but declined to get into specifics unless Palmer started the war of words.
"I know he's got probably two times as many on me, so I'm not going to leak any out unless he leaks some on me," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick called Palmer's sense of humor 'real dry, very sarcastic,' and said his demeanor shouldn't be taken at face value.
"He relies on the pranks a lot," Fitzpatrick said. "He's a real practical jokester. We had plenty of prank wars back in Cincinnati. It's funny because he'll come across as a serious guy at times, but he likes a good practical joke."
Palmer was suspicious when he learned Fitzpatrick talked to reporters about their friendship.
"Did he tell you any stories?" Palmer said. "He better be careful because I have a lot about him."
Both quarterbacks picked on each other for their facial hair. Palmer had a 'cop 'stache' in November, which Fitzpatrick said was grown to keep up with his own unkempt beard. Palmer jabbed Fitzpatrick's lack of facial grooming in a later interview.
"The 'Amish Rifle' is what they call him," Palmer said. "He has that neck beard, that chin beard."
The pair will catch up after Sunday's game in Nashville.
"Just a great dude," Palmer said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him."
MICHAEL FLOYD, ROB HOUSLER DON'T PRACTICE
Wide receiver Michael Floyd missed practice on Wednesday with the ankle injury he suffered Dec. 1 against the Eagles. He played on Sunday against the Rams but was held to two catches for 26 yards.
Tight end Rob Housler missed practiced with a groin injury. Palmer (elbow) was limited. Running back Andre Ellington (knee) and guard Paul Fanaika (back) were also limited.
Titans who did not practice were linebacker Akeem Ayers (groin), defensive end Karl Klug (back), guard Andy Levitre (hip), safety Bernard Pollard (personal) and cornerback Alterraun Verner (groin). Running back Leon Washington (groin) was limited.
ORHIAN JOHNSON ADDED TO PRACTICE SQUAD
Rookie Orhian Johnson was added to the practice squad on Wednesday. He went undrafted out of Ohio State and spent the preseason with the Texans. He takes the place of Curtis Taylor, who was elevated to the active roster when Tyrann Mathieu was placed on injured reserve.