With NFL training camps set to open in the coming days late July brings the usual optimism of “what can be” in the year ahead.
Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals are more than ready to turn the page on how 2014 concluded. A 6-1 start washed away with a lopsided playoff loss in Carolina after the Cards stumbled down the stretch following Palmer’s season-ending ACL knee injury on November 9th.
Essentially, any Glendale Super Bowl-hosting dreams were wheeled off on the same cart as Palmer on that fateful afternoon against the Rams.
Under Bruce Arians the Cards have proven to be far more than simply a flash in the pan. “BA” and general manager Steve Keim believe they’ve assembled a balanced blend of proven veterans and hungry young players heading into what promises to be a competitive camp.
But in the end, it all comes down to Palmer and his rehabilitated left knee which both the 35-year-old and the organization insist is better and stronger than ever.
“With almost any team in football there most valuable person is the quarterback,” SI.com senior NFL writer Peter King told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat Tuesday morning. “But..it’s almost like everything else is already in place in Arizona.”
The window of opportunity is now in the NFC West. The NFC Champion Seahawks still appear to be the team to beat but the 49ers are completely overhauled and the Rams continue to search for their offensive identity.
“If the over/under is 14, Carson Palmer plays 14 games,” King explained. “In my opinion, Arizona is a playoff team. If he plays 10-12 I really think they’re going to struggle to make the playoffs and if he plays less I don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs.”
The Birdgang are certainly hoping history doesn’t repeat itself this fall.