After near-perfect game, Palmer back at practice
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)
Carson Palmer didn't throw a pass in practice last week, then had one of the best passing games of his career.
The Arizona quarterback won't try that this week.
Palmer said before practice Wednesday that he planned to throw some in preparation for the Cardinals' game at Tennessee on Sunday.
Last Sunday, despite a sore elbow that had made him questionable for the game, Palmer completed 27 of 32 passes in Arizona's 30-10 victory over St. Louis. The 84.4 completion percentage was the highest of his career and second-highest in franchise history.
The only Cardinal to do better was Kurt Warner, who completed an NFL-record 92.3 percent - 24 of 26 - against Jacksonville in 2009.
Pretty much everything clicked in the passing game.
''Everybody caught the ball well,'' Palmer said. ''The protection was great. Play calling as phenomenal with the timing of play calls. Everything went into that.''
Palmer's near-perfect performance was further evidence that he and his offensive teammates have a grasp of coach Bruce Arians' system.
''The receivers played by far their best game, and he did also,'' Arians said. ''They were really in tune. The protection helped a bunch, but he got away from some stuff (pressure) too and made some really nice throws. Larry (Fitzgerald) made some great contested catches.''
Palmer threw to Fitzgerald 11 times and completed all 11 for 96 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown catch.
''Larry caught the ball really, really strong and did a great job,'' Palmer said. ''He made some routine plays for Larry that are extraordinary plays for most receivers in this league.''
Palmer injured his right elbow early in Arizona's 24-21 loss at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, perhaps explaining why he underthrew a pair of receivers on passes that were intercepted.
He said he felt better Wednesday and was listed as limited in practice.
''Missing practice is a big deal for a quarterback,'' Palmer said. ''I enjoy practice. It's fun. I don't have to hit anybody. I don't have to tackle anybody. Hand the ball off a couple of times, throw the ball around. I don't enjoy missing practice, but I'm going to go out and do a little more than I did last week.''
Arizona has won five out of six to improve to 8-5, one game behind Carolina and San Francisco in the race for the NFC's final wild-card playoff berth.
In that span, Palmer has completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 1,717 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions. That compares with eight touchdowns and 13 interceptions in the first seven games, when the Cardinals went 3-4.
Arians said that previous quarterbacks he has coached - he mentioned Peyton Manning, Tim Couch and Ben Roethlisberger - all had interception problems in the early stages of operating the offense.
''Once you get the nuances of everything, and you know where the ball is going pre-snap'' Arians said, ''once you see the coverage and you start trusting your receivers, those things come down.''
Palmer said everyone in the offense is simply more comfortable.
''I think we have just come a long way as a group,'' he said. ''I know we have come a long way in the trust department for sure, just trusting where a guy is going to be, trusting where the ball is going to be on their end. ...
''After a while you start to get it. `'
Notes: WR Michael Floyd (ankle) and TE Rob Housler (groin) did not practice. ... Arizona OLB John Abraham was named NFC defensive player of the week after getting three sacks, one for a safety, against the Rams. Abraham, 35, moved up to ninth on the career sacks list with 133.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org