A year ago around this time Carson Palmer was merely a spectator, forced to helplessly watch as the Carolina Panthers dismantled the Arizona Cardinals in Charlotte, abruptly ending an otherwise promising season.
Everything changed that Sunday afternoon in early November 2014 when Carson was carted off the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium. His torn ACL realistically ended any hope the Cards had of “hosting” the Super Bowl just less than three months past Palmer’s season-ending injury.
Fast-forward a year later, the Cardinals (13-3) and Palmer are back as they prepare for their divisional round showdown against the Packers (10-6) on Saturday.
Palmer is ready to experience every aspect of the playoffs leading up to this weekend in Glendale.
“It makes you appreciate film study that matters, practice that matters,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “There’s no doubt it’s been an absolute blast and I want to keep playing.”
The road back to the post-season has been a long one for Heisman Trophy winner and USC star who last tasted the experience back in 2006 as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. The 6’5″, 235-pounder barely broke a sweat against the division rival Steelers when he was hit low on a deep completion, tearing both his ACL and MCL.
Now it’s time for Palmer seize the moment.
“He understands…that his opportunities are finite,” SI.com NFL writer Peter King told Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat during a recent phone interview. “He will say this is the best chance I will ever have in the NFL career, certainly the best chance he’s had until now.”
As the Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Palmer and the Cards are hoping for a little of all three.