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The Start Of The Passing Game

Quarterbacks, pass catchers getting to know each other


New Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (lifting knee) talks with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald during a workout this week.

The conversations are ongoing.

They are shared sitting by lockers or during weight training or on the field during conditioning work. Sometimes, they take place – at least this time of year – on the field for quarterbacks and wide receivers as they toss the ball around it what is really not much more than a glorified game of catch.

Learning starts now, not only with the playbook but each other.

"It's just getting to know the guys," quarterback Drew Stanton said. "The more you can talk football you can start talking the same language. We have such a short window, these stringent rules we have to stick to, when you do have the opportunity to get out there and get an extra 10 minutes, that's what we need to do."

The players aren't even two weeks into meeting with coaches and seeing the offense for the first time. Next week the [internal-link-placeholder-0]Cardinals begin Phase Two of the offseason program, in which the offensive and defensive players can meet with their coaches on the field (althoughnot with each other). It'll be then when the first real tinkering with the passing game can begin.

In the meantime, there have been a couple of times when quarterbacks and pass catchers have gone on the field to throw the ball around a little, the ground floor to what the entire unit will build over the summer.

"It's about friendship, camaraderie right now," wide receiver Andre Roberts said. "We're not doing much yet."

The connection so many will be waiting for – Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald – has gotten more time so far discussing passing than actually passing.  But that will come, Palmer said, because getting offseason work with all the receivers is crucial.

"Everybody has different stride length, speed, timing in and out of their routes, so it isn't something you can just 'get' watching film," Palmer said. "It's something you have to do over and over and over again. We probably have 60 routes in our offense and you have to throw all of them hundreds of times before you are comfortable with them.

"You've got to coach each other up as you go. We'll probably run a couple routes wrong and think we'll have it down pretty good and we'll get to the first OTA and watch it on film and BA (Bruce Arians) will start yelling and screaming at someone we've been running it wrong. But that's just part of the process."

Early help has come from Stanton, who laughed when he was called the "default" answer man this time of year since he actually played in Arians' offense last season.

"I want to be a resource," Stanton said.

Because there is a new coaching staff, the Cardinals do have extra work coming quickly. The first minicamp – voluntary as it is – begins in less than two weeks, three days of practice leading into the draft that will be the first official time Arians and his coaches can truly get a sense of what they are working with on the field.

"This time of year is an integral part of the season, especially when there are teams doing what we're doing right now in their fifth, sixth, seventh year in their system," Palmer said. "We are behind. We have a lot of catching up to do. The only way you catch up is with repetition."

Time can be short. The regular-season schedule should be released sometime next week, giving concrete dates to the reality games will count for real sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, talk is anything but cheap. It's important as this overhauled roster finds its way on to the same page.

"We have a whole bunch of new guys, new plays, new coaches, new everything," Roberts said. "You try not to think about it. It's a long process. It's only April."

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