Palmer could be lost for year; Cards profess confidence in Stanton
GLENDALE, Ariz. — For Carson Palmer, a horrible piece of history appears to be repeating itself.
Two days after signing a $50 million contract extension, quarterback Palmer suffered what could be a season-ending left knee injury six plays into the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ 31-14 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
The Cardinals had no official word on the extend the injury, but FOX Sports 1 NFL insider Mike Garafolo reported that Palmer is feared to have suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which would sideline him for the rest of the season. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
If the worst fears are confirmed, it would be a cruel dose of history. Palmer suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a first-round playoff game against Pittsburgh following the 2005 season, nine days after signing a six-year, $118 million contract extension. His new deal with Arizona calls for a reported $20.5 million in guaranteed money.
Palmer suffered the injury Sunday without contact, when he planted his left leg as he moved right in the pocket while attempting to avoid a sack with 11:28 remaining. He was helped to the sideline, and his left leg buckled when he attempted to take a step on it before being carted off the field. The Cardinals trailed 14-10 but took the lead for good on the next series, when next-man-up Drew Stanton led a four-play, 89-yard drive that concluded with a 48-yard touchdown pass to John Brown.
"The one thing about Drew, he is so into it on the sideline because he is like another coach right there with Carson, looking at different blitzes and how to get ourselves protected," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
"He’s more than ready to go every time."
If Stanton’s time is now, he has shown he is more than prepared. Stanton led the Cardinals to victories over the New York Giants and San Francisco while Palmer nursed a shoulder injury, and he had the Cardinals in the game against Denver before leaving with a concussion in the third quarter.
If Stanton is under center for the rest of the season, he will start the Cardinals’ biggest NFC West games. The 8-1 Cardinals face Seattle twice and meet San Francisco in the Bay Area in the final game of the regular season.
"Like I said from Day 1, I’m always comfortable with Drew at quarterback," said Arians, who had Stanton at Indianapolis in 2012 and brought him to the Cardinals in 2013.
Stanton completed 43 of 88 passes for 529 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions entering Sunday’s game, when he was 3 for 5. He looked immediately comfortable with plays that called for him to roll out of the pocket, completing two passes to tight ends over the middle before finding Brown behind the Rams’ zone defense for the go-ahead score.
"There’s a reason they won games without him (Palmer), and Drew is the primary reason," St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said.
Larry Fitzgerald, who had nine receptions for 112 yards, said Stanton is so well-versed in Arians’ offense that he and his often teammates seek him out when they have questions.
"Fortunately, we’ve had opportunities to have Drew for a couple of games this season," FItzgerald said. "It’s given us a lot of confidence in Drew’s ability to go out there and execute. He understands the offense best of all of us. He’s got great knowledge, understanding, and more importantly, he’s got a lot of talent."
Stanton has been in the NFL for seven seasons, the first four with Detroit, where he played in 13 games and made four starts, three in 2010. The Cardinals play the Lions here Sunday in a match between the teams with the two best records in the NFC. He said his three starts this season will help moving forward.
"The further you are removed, the harder it is to get back in sync," Stanton said. "Things happen quickly out there. You have to trust your eyes. That’s the biggest thing I learned from my three starts.
"We’ll just continue to weather the storm, whatever it is."
Palmer, under pressure much of the day, completed 25 of 36 passes for 241 yards. He was sacked three times and threw an interception on what appeared to be a loose route by halfback Marion Grice over the middle late in the third quarter on the possession before Palmer was forced out.
Fitzgerald admitted it was sobering to see Palmer on the ground, the medical staff and teammates around him.
"You see your captain of the offense, one of your big leaders on the team, laying down on the ground …" Fitzgerald said. "We’re human. Long before Carson is our quarterback, he is our friend. You know his kids. You know his wife. Those type of things you think about. You want him to be able to play and perform. To be able to play with his kids every day. We understand the risk of playing football, and those things do come to mind.
"But then you look up there at the clock and you look at your teammates and you understand we are on a journey together, and there are going to be bumps in the road. You have to weather those rough times."
VIDEO: Cardinals-Rams highlights