Quarterback Carson Palmer throws a pass during the team's first training camp practice Saturday.
The Cardinals have stability at starting quarterback, which hasn't always been the case.
It benefits Carson Palmer as well.
Whether it was his last few years in Cincinnati or his tenure in Oakland or even last year trying to learn a new offensive system in Arizona, Palmer's professional life has been anything but simple. Now?
"It's awesome," Palmer said. "It's been awhile since it's been so stable around me -- five years, six years. It's nice to just focus on you and your improvements."
Success this season, even with a roster Palmer said is "by far the most talented team I've ever been on," still comes down to the quarterback. That is how the NFL is built these days, and why General Manager Steve Keim made the push to trade for Palmer last season.
After a post-Kurt Warner roller-coaster of quarterback play, Palmer brought steady into the equation. He threw for more than
4,000 yards. He threw for 24 touchdowns. His interception total was too high – 22 – but after throwing one every 20 attempts the first half of the season, that number dropped hard all the way to every 36 attempts in the second half of the season. Most importantly, the Cardinals won 10 games.
Palmer learned Bruce Arians' offense, as did his teammates, and it made a difference. Palmer isn't going to be ranked among the top quarterbacks in the league anymore, not that he cares about such things. But he brought an element to the huddle and the locker room that had been missing, beyond his statistics.
"You know the name. You know the brand. You know the pedigree of Carson Palmer. Then you get to know the guy, and you understand it's not all words, it's actions," tight end Rob Housler said. "For him to come in, day one, and lead, it was an eye-opener.
"No one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, and you don't look for someone to be perfect, but you look for someone to do the right thing and be a leader, and he's done nothing but that. He's set the bar high."
The learning hasn't stopped for Palmer, who turns 35 in December. Some of that is necessary, coach Bruce Arians said, because there are multiple ways to teach read progressions for a quarterback. That's the stuff, quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens said, Palmer has improved upon this offseason.
Handling the blitz better should cut down on the interceptions. Then Palmer's numbers can look gaudy without the downside.
"When you look at some of the interceptions last year he was right on target with the first and second read and then the pressure hit him and it was 'Where's the dumpoff, where do I get rid of this ball?' " Arians said.
It has been easy to hear the confidence in Palmer's comments all offseason. Last season, the offense felt "experimental" in some ways, Palmer said. No longer.
He and Arians traded texts in the offseason. Palmer, self-scouting at home, sometimes suggested ideas to his coach. Sometimes it wasn't necessarily football, instead "a question about a golf score he may have had or may not have had," Palmer deadpanned.
But that's when, for instance, the two first brought up the idea of using more no-huddle this season. That was nearly impossible last season because the players just didn't know the offense well enough.
Continuity has changed the equation. That brings a smile to Palmer's face, and belief in the organization Palmer indeed is the right guy to bring stability at quarterback.
"With somebody like Carson, his motivation comes from within," Kitchens said. "He wants to be better. He feels like he can be better than he was last year. He can. He had 20-some interceptions and he understands if he cuts those out, then it's looked at that he had a remarkable season. You don't have to motivate him from that standpoint."