BY: RICH GRAY
GLENDALE, AZ – Carson Palmer knew his time would be limited in the Arizona Cardinals preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs. Palmer made the most of that time, leading the Cardinals on a 7-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a rushing touchdown by Andre Ellington.
“It’s just great to go down, be efficient and score,” Palmer said. “Scoring a touchdown like that is just a great thing to build on for next week, so we just got to keep grinding.”
The first-team offense looked sharp. Palmer completed all four of his passes during the opening drive, his only drive of the night, for 77 yards. The drive was highlighted by a 57-yard completion to Ellington, who was tripped up Ron Parker at the 5-yard line.
“I’m going to be in [Ellington’s] ear for the rest of the week about getting run down from behind,” Palmer joked.
Speaking of Ellington, his nagging hamstring did not seem to bother him. He finished the night with 62 all-purpose yards and a rushing touchdown.
For Palmer, playing in his first game since his ACL injury last November was nothing special.
“I was just focused, very business-like,” Palmer said. “I was excited all day until I got here.”
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals first-team defense made some plays as well. Tyrann Mathieu, in his first game without a knee brace, intercepted Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on Kansas City’s opening drive. The Honey Badger has been a ball-hawk in the first two week of training camp.
“[Bruce] Arians preaches for everybody to practice how they want to play,” Mathieu said. “I’ve been getting my hand on some balls in practice, so it definitely translated to the game.”
Arizona held the Chiefs first-team offense to 81 total yards in the first quarter, stopping Kansas City on all three third down attempts.
New defensive coordinator James Bettcher dialed up a few different packages for the first-team. At one point, the Cardinals had six defensive backs—Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Deone Buccanon, Jerraud Powers and Rashad Johnson—on the field at one time.
Once the first-team left the game, things started to fall apart for the Cardinals second and third teams. But after a brief glimpse of what the starters showed on Saturday night, Arizona’s coaching staff should be pleased.
The Cardinals will continue training camp with practices schedule for Monday through Thursday next week, leading up to next Saturday’s matchup against the San Diego Chargers.