Car­son Palmer feels strong start­ing 15th NFL sea­son

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

For the first time in his ca­reer, Car­son Palmer aban­doned his usual pat­tern and didn’t throw at all for sev­eral months. The 37year-old quar­ter­back says the re­sults are ob­vi­ous as he be­gins his fifth train­ing camp with the Ari­zona Car­di­nals.

“It’s hard to ex­plain. You just feel bet­ter,” Palmer said be­fore the team went through its first train­ing camp prac­tice Satur­day. “You feel like you have more zip, more ve­loc­ity. ... I feel like I can go out and throw 150 balls in prac­tice. I don’t think I felt that way com­ing into camp last year.” Af­ter their dis­ap­point­ing 2016 sea­son, the Car­di­nals aren’t get­ting much na­tional at­ten­tion this year. Ex­perts point to Palmer’s age and the fact his play di­min­ished a year ago af­ter his out­stand­ing 2015 cam­paign. Palmer is en­ter­ing his 15th NFL sea­son and said when he was younger he never dreamed he would play so long.

“In foot­ball years, I think it’s per­ceived once you get to 35 you’re old,” he said, “but if you can still put it on ev­ery day and play and work out and train and pre­pare men­tally, I look at is as be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced and ma­ture.”

Coach Bruce Ari­ans ac­knowl­edged that a team’s suc­cess is usu­ally tied to the play of its quar­ter­back. “I’ve been for­tu­nate to be around some re­ally, re­ally good ones,” he said. ‘It’s al­ways

Car­son Palmer

fun go­ing to prac­tices and go­ing to the sta­dium on Sun­day when you have a good one. When you don’t have one, it’s rough.”

So, much of any suc­cess Ari­zona has this sea­son will de­pend on Palmer, who is used to that kind of scru­tiny. “You get prob­a­bly a lit­tle ner­vous at first as you’re com­ing up,” he said, “but you get kind of ad­dicted to it and en­joy it and en­joy the pres­sure that comes with the po­si­tion.” Palmer had his best sea­son as a pro­fes­sional in 2015, throw­ing for 4,671 yards and 35 touch­downs, both ca­reer highs, with 11 in­ter­cep­tions. He guided the team to a 13-3 record and an ap­pear­ance in the NFC cham­pi­onship game, a loss at Carolina.

The team had vir­tu­ally ev­ery­body back last year, but stag­gered to a 1-3 start and fin­ished 78-1. Palmer had his sixth ca­reer 4,000-yard pass­ing sea­son (4,233), but his touch­down to­tal dropped to 24 with 16 in­ter­cep­tions. He was bet­ter the last half of the sea­son, af­ter Ari­ans started giv­ing him off for Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice.

That led to the de­ci­sion to se­verely limit his throw­ing in the off­sea­son. Palmer said he fol­lowed or­ders. “I’ve been play­ing so long you get so in­grained in throw­ing in March, April and June,” he said, “and then to not do it is just odd. It just feels like some­thing’s wrong. But I lis­tened to ex­perts, like coach Ari­ans. ... I lis­tened to their ap­proach and I’m all in.” Much is be­ing made of that “win­dow of op­por­tu­nity” nearly clos­ing for this group of Car­di­nals. This could be the fi­nal go-round for the trio of Ari­ans, Palmer and Larry Fitzger­ald. One or more of them might re­tire af­ter this sea­son. Palmer said he doesn’t know how much longer he will play. “I still love it,” he said. “I’m ex­cited to be here.”

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