GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sunday’s game against the Bengals won’t bring Carson Palmer back to Cincinnati. It won’t even be his first meeting with his former team after a less than friendly ending. He took care of that uncomfortable engagement in 2012 while a member of the Oakland Raiders.
But the Cardinals QB admitted Thursday that facing the orange and black in a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium will still feel special because it affords him a chance to retrace his steps as he chases the years of his football life.
"When you’re somewhere for eight or nine years you have a lot of good memories," he said. "You think about the good, the bad, the ugly. More often, you think about the good, but you just know what it’s like being on that sideline playing for that organization."
Palmer is not the kind of guy to wax nostalgic or torture younger players with tales of yesteryear and lessons to be learned. So when he was asked if the Cardinals look at this season as a rare opportunity for success — an open window that shuts quickly in the constant turnover of the NFL — he shrugged.
"I don’t think at this moment, because everybody’s fighting for jobs," he said. "There’s so much competition in that locker room.
"There’s guys like Larry (Fitzgerald) and a handful of guys that are going to be on the roster, but there’s a lot of spots that guys are fighting for, and then there’s some guys who are probably going to be on the roster but are fighting for starting spots or second string-spots. Now is the time to be worried about yourself."
But rest assured, Palmer is acutely aware of the passage of time and opportunity.
"I know with my age I’m not going to play for 10 more years," he said. "There’s a handful of guys in that locker room that aren’t going to play for that long that know that, too, but for the most part you can’t control anything past tomorrow.
"The window thing gets kind of blown out of proportion. There’s a handful of teams that probably don’t have a great shot. There’s a lot of teams that have a really good shot, and we’re one of those teams."
This will be Palmer’s 11th NFL season (the first eight were spent with the Bengals), and he will turn 36 a day before the regular season concludes. With the possible exception of the 2005 season in Cincinnati, this had to feel like his best chance at tasting playoff victory when the offseason was still in full flower.
But that was before Karlos Dansby departed in free agency, Daryl Washington was suspended for the season (or more) and Darnell Dockett was lost for the season with an ACL tear.
"At the end of the day, I don’t know if you fill those shoes," he said. "There’s not a bunch of Darnell Docketts out there, there’s not a bunch of Karloses, there’s not a bunch of guys out there that are athletic freaks like Daryl was."
Palmer just hopes that the Cardinals can compensate for those losses, the replacements will bring new things to the table and he will finally get a chance to slip through that window.
"As we get close to the season and you get close to that Monday Night opener, that’s when you start realizing and thinking about that," he said.
Linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral), left guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) and tackle Max Starks (ankle) missed practice again on Thursday. There were no other reported injuries.
— Arians said newly signed defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga can play up and down the line. "He’s a tremendous athlete for a man that size," Arians said.
— The Cardinals have two roster spots open, but Arians said they won’t fill them with the first roster cuts (from 90 to 75) coming on Monday.
— Arians on wide receiver Walt Powell, a sixth-round pick: "He’s going to have to make it on special teams. He’s starting to learn how to play gunner and vice and some of those things. We’ll try to shoot him out there as a return man and see what he’s got, because he’s got an uphill battle with all those guys in front of him."