TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Three days after his triumphant return against the Washington Redskins, Carson Palmer was looking forward to practice.
That’s something a football player rarely says.
“I’m probably the most excited a guy as there is in the league for a Wednesday practice,” Palmer said before the workout.
It was his first full practice since he injured a nerve in his throwing shoulder in the season-opening win over San Diego. He participated in only a portion of last Friday’s practice before throwing two touchdown passes in the Cardinals’ 30-20 win over Washington on Sunday.
Palmer said he is getting better every day but he is not back to his normal self.
“There’s not an exact day where I’m going to say, ‘OK, X is when everything’s great and hunky-dory and 100 percent,” he said.
The main thing he needs to do is strengthen his arm in preparation for Sunday’s game at Oakland.
“I have to just throw,” Palmer said. “That’s the only way. I said before, you don’t get your arm stronger by lifting in the weight room, you get your arm stronger by throwing and throwing and throwing, and that’s what I need to do.”
Palmer spent Monday and Tuesday at the practice facility.
“He threw a bunch yesterday,” coach Bruce Arians said. “It’s still got a ways to go but it’s more than serviceable.”
A big reason Arizona is 4-1 and atop the NFC West is its turnover ratio. The Cardinals have 11 takeaways and have committed three turnovers. That plus-eight ratio ranks third in the NFL.
The team’s three quarterbacks have not thrown an interception all year — in a total of 178 passes. Dating to the final game of last season, the Cardinals have not thrown an interception in 223 passes.
“A little bit of luck,” Palmer said. “We’re just getting the ball out quick and not holding onto it for too long.”
The longer he holds onto the ball, the greater the “chance you get a tipped interception or sack fumbles or one of those ones that kind of just pops up in the D-lineman’s hands,” he said.
Palmer said that “being decisive” with his reads, a product of being familiar now with Arians’ system, also factored in the lack of picks.
“I’ve been very confident and comfortable in the system in the two games I’ve played,” he said, “and that’s a different feeling than I’ve had in the past.”
Palmer will be in familiar surroundings on Sunday. He played for the Raiders for 1½ seasons before being acquired by Arizona last year.
Asked to define his Oakland experience, Palmer said, “It was just an odd time.”
“One year everybody had to get cut that was making anything over the vet minimum because of the way all those contracts were frontloaded or backloaded, whatever it was,” he said. “New coach, new GM, it was just a weird time. The owner had died, the face of the organization. It was just an odd time and unfortunate.”
Palmer was 8-16 with the Raiders. He is 14-7 so far with the Cardinals.
He called his time in Arizona “awesome.”
“And we’re just getting started,” he said.
Arians said that, from his days in Pittsburgh, he knew that Palmer was “tough as nails” with a great arm. But the quarterback’s leadership has impressed him now that he’s seen the quarterback up close.
“Even in his time off, you saw him on the sidelines coaching,” Arians said. “He was into it, helping Drew (Stanton), helping Larry (Fitzgerald), helping everybody.”
NOTES: Cardinals rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro was named NFC special teams player of the week after kicking three field goals against Washington. He is 14-for-14 on field goals this season.