The concussion that forced quarterback Carson Palmer to exit the Cardinals’ 17-13 loss to the Rams last Sunday and kept him from suiting up for their 33-21 win over the 49ers on Thursday is unlikely to limit him going forward. Palmer is in the last stage of the NFL’s concussion protocol, head coach Bruce Arians revealed Friday. Arians also expressed optimism about Palmer’s chances of starting in Week 6.
“I can’t say for sure. But he looked good in there lifting weights,” Arians told reporters, including Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com.
With Palmer on the shelf lately, the Cardinals have turned to veteran backup Drew Stanton, though his results haven’t been pretty. Stanton has completed just 16-of-43 passes for 172 yards to accompany a pair of touchdowns and interceptions this season. Arizona largely won in spite of Stanton in San Francisco, where he connected on a meager 11-of-28 throws for 124 yards and two scores.
Palmer, who’s a year removed from the best season of his career, took a step back in the early going before suffering the concussion. The former Bengal and Raider completed 63.7 of his 537 attempts and posted an 8.71 YPA, 35 scores against 11 picks, and a 104.6 passer rating for the 13-3 Cardinals in 2015. So far this season, the 36-year-old’s rates have fallen off (58.8 percent completion mark, 7.52 YPA, 81.9 rating), and he has already tossed five INTs against six TDs. Nevertheless, Palmer is easily the Cardinals’ top option under center, meaning they’ll need him healthy in order to challenge for a Super Bowl title.
At 2-3, Arizona has been among the league’s biggest disappointments this year. The club, perhaps with Palmer back in the lineup, will hope to build on its Thursday victory when it hosts the Jets in a Week 6 Monday night matchup. After that, five of its next six games come against potential NFC contenders. From Oct. 23 to Dec. 4, the Cardinals’ opponents include the Seahawks, Panthers, Vikings, Falcons and Redskins.
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