After near-perfect game, Palmer back at practice

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