TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Carson Palmer stepped under center, called out a few signals, then dropped back to pass. Scanning the defensive backfield, he spotted a receiver going deep along the right side and rifled a pass to his back shoulder for a completion.
So what if it was a drill against his teammates during a voluntary minicamp in helmets and no pads.
After weeks of studying and throwing against garbage cans, it was good for Palmer to take what he's learned about his new team and new system against live competition.
"It's completely different," Palmer said on Tuesday, the first day of voluntary workouts for the Arizona Cardinals. "It's full go, 100 percent, guys are going full speed. A lot of what we did in the weeks before were walkthrough speed, kind of half speed, and now there's a defense across the ball. Before, there was trash cans in front of us ... now there's some good football players across from us and it's been good competition for us."
Arizona has struggled to find a consistent quarterback since Kurt Warner retired in 2009 and has put a lot of faith in Palmer.
The Cardinals have started three straight seasons with a new quarterback and last year went through a revolving door of four signal callers without much success, losing 11 of their final 12 games.
With the promotion of Steve Keim to general manager and the hiring of Bruce Arians as head coach, Arizona got rid of two of last year's quarterbacks, releasing Kevin Kolb and John Skelton.
The Cardinals then turned to Palmer, swapping a few draft picks with Oakland and restructuring his contract after he was due to make $13 million.
The first overall draft pick by Cincinnati in 2002, Palmer appeared to be headed toward retirement thanks to a severe knee injury and an elbow problem. Instead, he was traded two years ago by the Bengals to Oakland, where he became the second quarterback in team history to throw for over 4,000 yards as the Raiders went 4-11.
Now Palmer is in the desert, where he has to learn a new team, a new system and new teammates.
What may help his transition is the system Arians runs.
Arizona's first-year coach had success with it while in Pittsburgh, winning a Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger under center. Arians became Indianapolis' offensive coordinator last season and led the Colts to a 9-3 record as interim coach while Chuck Pagano was undergoing treatment for leukemia.