Cardinals QB Palmer says he’ll be ready for training camp

Carson Palmer says he's doing 4 to 5 hours of rehab five days a week and began running about three weeks ago.

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. — There are three near-certainties with significant injuries to NFL players. Their surgeries will go well. They’ll be ahead of schedule in their rehab and they’ll be ready to come back, stronger than ever.

All have been said of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, but when he sat at the podium at the team’s headquarters on Thursday — the first time he has done so since his emotional press conference less than 24 hours after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in Week 10 against the St. Louis Rams  — Palmer was refreshingly free of hyperbole. 

"There’s ahead of schedule and then there’s professional-athlete ahead of schedule or behind schedule," Palmer said. "That gets kind of blown out of proportion, but I’m going to be ready to rock and roll by the season. I’m definitely going to be ready for (training) camp and shooting to be getting reps in our mandatory mini(camp) and hopefully some of the OTA practices." 

It’s been 116 days since Palmer suffered the injury, but he is walking without any hint of a limp and has been running for two to three weeks. He is doing squats, leg presses, pulling sleds and is pretty close to resuming a normal workout. 

He said he’s in rehab Monday through Friday for about four to five hours, with running and hard agility drills on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, lifting on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and throwing every day.

"The last month has really been fun against because I’m actually lifting weights and getting ready for 2015," he said. 

Palmer said the knee injury he suffered in 2005 in Cincinnati — one he has described as much worse than this one — helped him know what to expect in this rehab process.

"A lot more than I expected," he said. "A lot of things come back to you that you had forgotten about."

As anyone would expect, Palmer said it was difficult to watch the team compete in the playoffs without him. He also said he was in a funk for a while and had to apologize to his wife later when he realized all the things that he had missed by being so self-absorbed.

Dockett to the 49ers

"We had a date night," Palmer said. "She brought that up, and I quickly changed the subject."

It’s unknown how much coach Bruce Arians will allow Palmer to participate in OTAs and minicamp when it really isn’t necessary at this point in his career, but it’s a safe bet the Cardinals will be conservative and err on the side of caution if there is any doubt about his readiness.

While Palmer lamented the loss of Darnell Dockett to the 49ers on Thursday, he also expressed relief that receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be back for two more years. He also anticipates GM Steve Keim being aggressive to improve the roster when free agency begins next week. To that end, Palmer said he agreed to restructure his contract about a month ago to help the team’s cap situation and free-agency plans. 

"They’ve done a good job since Steve and Bruce have been together," Palmer said. "The sky’s the limit. My expectations are very high that we’re going to get even better next week."

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