By: Kayla Mortellaro
TEMPE, Ariz.— Carson Palmer is the subject of this edition of Cards Camp Spotlight on The Blitz with Rich Gray heard weekdays at 2:15 p.m.
Quarterback Carson Palmer’s career has been one filled with success, injury and perseverance.
In college with the USC Trojans, Palmer was a star. He returned for his senior year as a fifth year player and racked up impressive numbers. Palmer completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 3,942 yards. He tossed 33 touchdown passes and threw only 10 interceptions.
For his remarkable 2002 season, Palmer won the Heisman Trophy, earned the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Palmer was drafted number one overall in the 2003 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals chose to have him sit behind Jon Kitna in his rookie season. But by 2004, Palmer was the starting quarterback for 13 games.
Palmer became a hero to Cincinnati fans in 2005 by leading the Bengals to their first winning season since 1990 with an 11-5 record and a division title. But during their first playoff game, on the Bengals’ first pass play, Palmer was chopped low by Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen. Palmer was knocked out of the game and later found out he suffered an ACL tear, a MCL tear, and cartilage and meniscus damage.
The injury was perceived to be career-threatening but Palmer remained optimistic and participated in a newly developed surgery. Palmer’s knee was completely reconstructed using the Achilles tendon from a 44-year-old woman who was killed in a car crash two years prior to the injury Palmer suffered.
Palmer returned for the start of the 2006 season with the Bengals, but in 2008, Palmer’s season with the team ended early with a partially torn ligament in his elbow. Palmer did not undergo Tommy John surgery, but instead elected for rest and physical therapy.
Palmer was the starting quarterback with the Bengals from 2004-2010 where he tossed 154 touchdowns and 100 interceptions with a 46-51 record.
In 2011, Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders where he quarterbacked the squad for two seasons. Palmer did not enjoy as much success with the Raiders as he went 8-15 as the starting quarterback.
But in 2013, the Cardinals were in desperate need of a quarterback and made a trade for Palmer. The trade turned out to be a good thing for the Cardinals and Palmer. Palmer was reignited as a winner as he is 16-6 as the Cardinals starting quarterback, but not without some injury setbacks along the way.
Palmer stayed healthy in 2013, and in 2014, the Cardinals had a magical start to the season, with high expectations and the hopes of playing Super Bowl 49 in their own building. But on November, 9th, Palmer re-tore his ACL in a game against the Rams. In that instant, the hopes for the Cardinals of reaching the Super Bowl were dashed.
But Palmer is now healed, recovered and happy with the process his knee went through.
“The world has changed in 10 years, it’s amazing,” Palmer said about the process of his recovery. “Just the things that were so the norm back then that I thought I’d be doing this time around. ‘Oh no, we don’t do that anymore, that’s terrible for this and that hurts this.’ Everything has changed and obviously there are so many things I did the first time that I didn’t even do this time. There were some carry over. But it’s changed drastically.”
As of right now, Palmer says he feels his age of 35-years-old, but that is actually a good thing for his production and bounce-back ability on the field.
“I feel great, I think a good reason for that is I am too old to do what I used to do,” Palmer said Wednesday at training camp.
When he played with the Bengals in his early 20’s, he would go golfing or shoot hoops with his teammates in between workouts and was pushing his body to the limits because his youthful age did not signal him to slow him down.
“I’ve stopped doing that [competitive things off the field] just to get my rest, so I actually feel better,” Palmer continued Wednesday.
With a resurgence in his health and entering year-three in head coach Bruce Arians’ offensive system, Palmer returns to the field in a Cardinals uniform for what hopes to be another magical run in 2015.
“I’m really getting comfortable with the offense. I’m really getting comfortable with the protections,” Palmer said Wednesday. “There’s things that I’ve made errors on and time has gone by and I’ve made that error again, but I haven’t done that [this year]. But that has nothing to do with any mechanic work- that is simply reps and being in the system for three years.”
The buzz around training camp is the abundant talent up and down the roster.
“We’re as talented as anybody in this league,” Palmer said. “I think if you were to put our roster up against anybody’s roster and just kind of look at all the intangibles of each guy and the backups. I would put our roster up against everybody.”
But Palmer is a veteran. He knows that talent alone does not win championships. He knows what it takes to be a winner. He knows what it takes to fight adversity and be mentally strong to rise to the top.
“It’s rarely just the flat out most talent wins, it’s the best teams and that’s what we’re trying to do and trying to become, “Palmer said.
Everyone on the Cardinals roster is not shying away from announcing the goal of the season is to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on February 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, California.
But again, as a veteran leader, Palmer acknowledges the goal but understands it is a long process in order to achieve it.
“There’s no doubt that’s our goal and there’s no doubt that’s our dream [Super Bowl 50] and all those things, but there is so much that comes before that and there is so much work that gets put in,” Palmer said. “There’s so much adversity you have to overcome in a number of different forms that you have to kind of prepare yourself for.”
Palmer gives credit to Arians for being the ultimate leader and getting all the players on board with the process of developing into a great team.
“We’re talking about one day at a time and respecting the process,” Palmer said. “That’s the number one message I think BA [Bruce Arians] sends to his teams is it’s a process and you have to respect it. It’s one day at a time, one play at a time and not who we play next week or who our first preseason game is or when our first day off is. You just got to focus on one day at a time.”
Redbirds fans are excited about the possibilities for the team this season. But Palmer knows in order to get to that ultimate goal, the team has to block out the noise and be mentally tough.
“All of the expectations that are put on us or not put on us are out of our control and all we can control is today,” Palmer said.
The Blitz with Rich Gray can be heard weekdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. with the Cards Camp Spotlight every day at 2:15 p.m.