Cardinals' Palmer cautiously optimistic in wake of win over Green Bay
GLENDALE - Carson Palmer has been around long enough to know that a team's performance in its first preseason game doesn't mean a whole lot.
He did good, but is not getting carried away - especially when it comes to the first-team offense.
Palmer, in his Arizona debut, completed four of six passes for 77 yards, capping off his brief stint with a 38-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts in the Cardinals' 17-0 victory at Green Bay.
Palmer said his nine plays Friday night simply aren't enough to determine what the Cardinals have on offense.
"I don't think you really find out who you are until you get in big regular-season games," Palmer said Monday, "and you've got to play with the lead in the fourth quarter, you've got to come from behind, you're playing against a good defense and need to convert third downs. Preseason's tough to tell and tough to gauge your team."
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Palmer was "spot on" against the Packers. "I thought he threw the ball extremely well," Arians said.
One example came when Arizona was backed inside its 1-yard line after the Cardinals' defense had a successful goal-line stand. Rather than play it safe, Palmer threw an out pattern to Larry Fitzgerald for a 17-yard gain.
"We're not going to play conservative," Arians said. "That's just not my style. That was his third read on the play. The great part of that play was Michael Floyd blocking Clay Matthews."
Palmer loves that philosophy.
"We're playing offensive offense. We're not playing defensive offense," he said. "... Bruce is going to call his plays and we're going to have to go out there and execute them. Being a quarterback in that kind of system, it's fun. That's how you want to play."
Arians said he wants his first unit to go "at least" 20 plays when Arizona plays its preseason home opener on Saturday against the Dallas Cowboys.
It will be good for the offense to go against a 4-3 defensive scheme, Arians said, after facing a 3-4 throughout camp practices and against the Packers.
The Cardinals practiced Sunday at their facility in Tempe, then were back at University of Phoenix Stadium, their training camp site, on Monday.
Guard Daryn Colledge, out since early in camp with an irritated nerve in his right leg, was practicing on a limited basis. Arians said he hoped Colledge would be able to go fully by today.
Arians has repeatedly praised Colledge's replacement, Paul Fanaika, and kept at it on Monday. "It's always good to be back practicing," he said, referring to Colledge, "especially if somebody at your position is doing well. It behooves you to be back on the field."
Colledge, who switched from left guard to the right side after Arizona drafted Jonathan Cooper in the first round, is well aware of the need to get back to practice.
"This regime has proven that they don't mind bringing somebody else in and getting the job done if you don't plan on doing it," Colledge said.
Arians said no one separated himself from the pack in the competition for fourth wide receiver. The coach panned the overall performance of all the contenders for the spot behind the top three of Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd and Roberts.
"When they caught the ball they did the right thing and the other times they didn't," he said. "When a receiver grades out about 50 percent, it's very poor."
Arians was very critical of the mental mistakes his younger players made. "The more exposure you have, the more you get exposed," he said. "Alignment, pre-snap mental errors, they've got to go, or you've got to go. That's exactly what you tell them."
A couple of young players did get the coach's nod of approval - rookies Tyrann Mathieu and Kevin Minter.
Mathieu, despite his 5-foot-9, 186-pound stature, can be an every down safety, Arians said.
"He plays bigger than he is and he plays faster than he is," the coach said.
Minter, a former teammate of Mathieu at LSU and Arizona's second-round draft pick, "played sideline to sideline a little bit better than I even anticipated," Arians said.
"But I was really impressed on kickoff coverage," the coach said. "He jumped in and did a really good job. He's a thumper and that's exactly what we're looking for in a middle linebacker."