Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer's biggest concern is keeping the team healthy throughout the preseason.
Let's just come out with it: the Cardinals have looked abysmal this preseason.
The team is 0-2 and has been outscored 50-13 by the Raiders and Chargers. The quarterback play has been poor and the other positions haven't exactly been a beacon of shining light.
The third exhibition game is commonly referred to as the dress rehearsal for the regular season, so maybe Sunday against the Texans is when the Cardinals finally find their rhythm. Isn't that important?
"I hate to say this…" wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald began.
"You hate to say it…" Carson Palmer said.
It turns out the Cardinals really don't care one whit about the exhibition slate.
"The preseason," Fitzgerald said, "is drudgery. You've got to go out there and play but it doesn't mean anything."
The Cardinals won 13 games last year, advanced to the NFC Championship and returned basically every difference-maker in the offseason. They also added key pieces which could make them better.
A few disjointed games when the score doesn't matter aren't going to dampen their Super Bowl expectations.
"We've had 15 reps in the preseason games," Palmer said of the starting offense. "I've had thousands of reps thus far in training camp. We've had tens of thousands of reps together as a unit. There's enough data looking back at all the plays in last year's games, OTAs and so far this training camp. That's where you get your confidence and you see what you're made of, by looking at so many reps that we've put together as a group. Not three series as an offense in a preseason game."
The starters might play two quarters in Houston, although it wouldn't be a surprise if Palmer is taken out earlier. Veterans nursing minor injuries – like Fitzgerald – could also be held out as a precaution.
Coach Bruce Arians likes the idea of his starting offensive line getting challenged by a good Texans front (sans J.J. Watt, however) but otherwise is most interested in staying healthy.
On other teams, there are quarterback competitions still being waged and new coaches trying to get their playbooks installed. Arians will be watching his backups closely as cuts approach, but he already has a great feel for his starters.
"I'm not interested in seeing them play 30 plays," Arians said. "I know what they can do."
Some believe poor preseason play is a bad omen for the season opener, worried that the sloppiness will carry over to the games that matter. But success and failure in exhibition games have no predictive value, which backup quarterback Drew Stanton knows from experience.
In 2008, he played for a Lions team which went a perfect 4-0 in the preseason. Any perceived momentum was non-existent, because Detroit ended up 0-16 in the regular season.
"The preseason is great, don't get me wrong," Stanton said. "It helps build your confidence and you work on different things. (But) I think sometimes people get caught up in the records."
Images of the players who stood out the most throughout training camp