Quarterback Carson Palmer (left) used video of the Colts and QB Andrew Luck to get a handle on Bruce Arians' offense.
Andrew Luck may not know it, but he had a fellow NFL quarterback studying his every move seven months ago.
When Carson Palmer was traded to the Cardinals in April, he began researching Bruce Arians' intricate offense. Palmer tracked down the most recent examples of that work, which came from Arians' tenure as interim coach and offensive coordinator of the Colts in 2012.
He popped in the video and watched Luck's entire rookie season with Indianapolis.
"You (only) get so much on a piece of paper and in a playbook," Palmer said. "The way I've always learned is kind
of a visual learner and watching it work on the field, and I learned a lot of the offense through Indianapolis cutups and film and saw him do a number of things. Obviously, there are a lot of things he does very well. I gained a lot of respect for his game just from watching 16 weeks from last year."
The quarterbacks' season trajectories are similar.
After some struggles early, Palmer seems to be getting more comfortable within the offense, throwing for a career-best 419 yards in Sunday's 27-14 win over the Jaguars. The Cardinals averaged 19 points per game in the first seven but have bumped that up to 27 per game in the past three.
In 2012, the Colts averaged 19.4 points per game in the first seven and 24.6 the rest of the way.
Luck said learning the Arians playbook "was difficult. A lot of times, I remember in OTAs and early in training camp, where I felt very lost, in a sense."
Arians said it's actually tougher for veteran quarterbacks to grasp his philosophies because they are less malleable.
"When you get a rookie, you can just brainwash him real quick," Arians said. "Forget all that stuff from college and start learning at page on. It was very simple when you have a rookie. It's much harder with a veteran player."
FINDING DIFFERENT WAYS TO SCORE POINTS
The Cardinals have scored 27 points in three consecutive games, but they've gone about it differently each time.
Against the Falcons, they ran for 201 yards and threw for only 147. The win over the Texans had the best balance, as the Cardinals rushed for 97 yards and threw for 235. In last week's win against the Jaguars, Palmer threw for a career-high 416 yards but the running game was held to 14 yards on 24 attempts.
While the team has shown it can move the ball both on the ground and through the air of late, guard Daryn Colledge wants to see both facets working simultaneously.
"I don't think anybody's willing to stand up and say that we're a consistent group yet," he said. "We've shown that if we're on the same page we can get certain things done. Now, for us, it's finding that consistency every single week. Special teams is special. So is the defense. It's up to us as an offense to catch up to those guys."
BETHEL CLEARED FOR PRACTICE
Special teams standout Justin Bethel passed the league's concussion protocol and returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis. He was knocked out of Sunday's game against Jacksonville on a blindside hit while covering a punt.
"We'll take it very easy with him," Arians said.
Wide receiver Brittan Golden looks close to returning from a hamstring injury. He has been practicing on a limited basis since last Thursday. His presence could be needed, because Teddy Williams, the Cardinals' deep threat during Golden's absence, was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles against the Jaguars.
Arians said Golden is about 90 percent healthy.
"He's still finding that last gear," Arians said. "I think it's more scar tissue than it is injury at this point in time. We hope to get him back soon."
Backup offensive lineman Mike Gibson (illness) did not practice, while linebacker John Abraham (hamstring) and wide receiver Michael Floyd (shoulder) were limited. Palmer appeared on the injury report with a right hand problem, but he practiced full.
Colts safety LaRon Landry (toe), fullback Stanley Havili (concussion), running back Dan Herron (ankle) and cornerback Greg Toler (groin) did not practice, while cornerback Josh Gordy (groin) was limited.
CARDINALS HOSTING ANNUAL HOLIDAY FOOD DRIVE BEFORE SUNDAY'S GAME
The Cardinals will hold a holiday food drive benefiting St. Mary's Food Bank Alliance before Sunday's game. Team cheerleaders and food bank volunteers will be collecting non-perishable food items and monetary donations at all five University of Phoenix Stadium gates and on the Great Lawn.