Cardinals QB Palmer to ease way up on offseason throwing

Credit: Matt York

Credit: Matt York

The Arizona Cardinals have five quarterbacks. One of them, Carson Palmer, only stood and watched as the team went through its first offseason workout.

At age 37, Palmer will greatly curtail his offseason throwing in hopes of preserving arm strength for his 15th NFL season.

Palmer has thrown 6,040 passes in the NFL and countless more in offseason workouts, weekly practices and simply on his own.

It's taken a toll.

Coach Bruce Arians said the ease-up was Palmer's idea. Palmer said he had to be persuaded by Arians.

"Coach is very persuasive," Palmer said. "He had very good reasons and points why. I'm going to trust his expertise and knowledge of this position because it's as good as it gets."

The plan is for Palmer to sit through six OTAs before throwing in the final three and during the entire three-day minicamp. But even those will be limited.

Palmer said he's thrown too much in the offseason for quite some time.

"I don't think I've done a good job probably the last eight or nine years," he said. "I've treated the last eight or nine years like I was 24, 25, 26. You've got to adapt and it's difficult for me to do."

He's already thrown far fewer passes than he usually would have by this time.

"March and April really is where I'm used to throwing and throwing and throwing," Palmer said. "So those throws were eliminated and (I'm) really doing everything except throwing the football ... working out, lifting, footwork, all the muscles around the shoulder, you still can work without throwing the football."

While Palmer watches, Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert work with the No. 1 unit. Stanton has been the backup to Palmer since Arians came to Arizona four seasons ago.

"Drew had a great day," Arians said. "Blaine jumped in there and made a mistake or two but he's only been here a day. I'm really pleased with how the quarterback work has gone."

Stanton, 33, remains firmly in the No. 2 quarterback role, with Gabbert behind him. The other two quarterbacks — Zac Dysert and rookie Trevor Knight — worked out on a second practice field.

Gabbert has had a disappointing career since being drafted in the first round by Jacksonville six years ago.

He's never run the same offense two years in a row.

In the locker room Tuesday, Gabbert quickly rattled off the names of the six offensive coordinators he's had.

"The good thing and the bad thing is this is the seventh (offense) I've had to learn in seven years," he said. "So I think I have the way to learn a system down pretty well."

Palmer said he likes the Gabbert signing.

"He's a former first-round pick and been through a lot of coordinators, been through a couple of teams," Palmer said. "Sometimes it just takes, especially at the quarterback position, the right fit, and I trust this organization's decisions and the moves they make and I'm looking forward to working with him."

Palmer had a big year in 2015, throwing for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns, both career highs, in leading Arizona to a 13-3 record and a spot in the NFC championship game.

But from the start last season, Palmer didn't seem to have the same velocity on the ball. He had a hard time connecting downfield, long passes that are a big part of Arians' wide-open offense.

Then in the bye week midway through the season, Arians decided Palmer would no longer practice on Wednesdays. The difference was apparent.

"I felt better," Palmer said, "not getting 200 or 300 throws between Wednesday and Friday like I was getting the first half of the season.'"

Expect him to sit out Wednesday workouts again this season, which could be Palmer's last. He said he won't know until it's over and he assesses how he feels.

For now, he's hoping all the arm rest sets him up for a strong 2017 season.

"I think it will make a big difference," Palmer said. "Like he (Arians) said, how many curls do you need to throw in March? I've thrown a lot of curls over the years. I'm looking forward to seeing the benefits of this as the season rolls on."