TEMPE, Ariz. — Since Carson Palmer entered the NFL in 2003, the three teams for which he has played — the Bengals, the Raiders and now the Cardinals — have combined for six winning seasons out of a possible 30. Only the Cardinals have won a playoff game in that span.
Palmer couldn’t help who drafted him, and he didn’t have many options when he was traded twice in the past year and a half. So how does the 10-year pro approach the latest low hand he’s been dealt — that of a team coming off three straight playoff-less seasons?
“I don’t think there is an easy situation for anybody in this league. Even for the guys who won the Super Bowl last year,” Palmer said. “That’s what either drives you or it doesn’t. Something that drives me is to work and get better and overcome the circumstances that you’re in.”
Palmer wasn’t speaking ill of the Cardinals. He was addressing how he has learned to overcome long odds. And rest assured, he is facing them again.
No matter how talented this roster may look in the offseason when promise is blooming, there are still questions dotting the starting lineup, and there is still the reality that the Cards will play in the brutal NFC West while facing (on paper, at least), the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFL this season.
So maybe it’s comforting to know that Palmer has been there and done that.
“I’ve been thrown in the fire, had a chance to sit back and watch and everything in between,” he said. “You learn from tough and easy situations.”
The Cardinals began work on what looks more like the former than the latter Tuesday when they opened OTAs with 100 percent participation from veterans and rookies under a new coaching staff.
“I was very pleased with the way practice went — excellent effort,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Obviously, we had full participation, which is a great sign by the commitment of the guys.”
Tuesday’s workout gave Palmer his first look at the Cardinals’ collection of receivers. Palmer praised the abilities of Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd, who he said tend to get lost in Larry Fitzgerald’s long shadow.
“It’s good to have the speed on the field and the size of these guys, because they’re all big and strong,” he said.
At the same time, Palmer noted that he and the group have a long way to go.
“You can run the ball great and play good defense, but you’ve got to be able to throw the ball vertically to win, and you don’t throw the ball vertically unless you have really good rhythm and timing,” he said. “I don’t think we’re there yet. In order to have confidence, you have to know what you’re doing. That’s something that takes time.”
Palmer will also take time to adjust to Arians’ play-calling style and his “accent,” which the QB had a hard time deciphering, at times through the headset that he is using to simulate game situations.
“They’ve got to hear my voice and get used to hearing the play,” Arians said.
One thing Palmer says he will have no problem adjusting to — after witnessing it first-hand — is the effort Fitzgerald gives on every play and the boost he will provide the offense as it looks to shake three straight seasons of dismal performances.
“It’s exactly what I expected,” Palmer said. “He’s working as hard in practice as he does in games. He’s a perfectionist. He wants to do things right every single time.
“He and I are going to get along great, because I’m the same way.”