Just seven months after an ACL tear ended his 2014 season, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is already a full participant in practices. He expects to be completely ready to go for the beginning of the 2015 season, looking to take care of what he calls "unfinished business."
In Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback, Jenny Vrentas talked to Palmer about his recovery, which he said hasn't surprised him at all. In fact, it's not the first time that Palmer has made a similar bounceback from a devastating knee injury.
In January 2006, Palmer tore his ACL and MCL in a playoff game during his time with the Cincinnati Bengals and still managed to be ready for a preseason game in August. After a Pro Bowl season in 2005, Palmer repeated as a Pro Bowler in 2006, although the Bengals didn't make the postseason again.
With more time to rehabilitate from this knee injury, Palmer has used the time to improve quirks in his throwing motion and he knows that his time to win a Super Bowl is running out. After only two starts in the postseason in 12 seasons since being selected first overall in the 2003 NFL Draft, the 35-year-old passer has only a few more chances to get his hands on a Lombardi Trophy.
"I think about that all the time. Absolutely," Palmer says. "You only get so many shots. I'm hoping this is lucky No. 13. I believe it is. It is another thing, though, to go out and prove it."
With Palmer at the helm of the offense in 2014, the Cardinals racked up a 6-0 record. Even with Drew Stanton taking over for Palmer, Arizona managed a 6-3 record. But when Stanton went down as well, the Cardinals had to turn to Ryan Lindley, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes in three regular season appearances.
The team lost its last two games and limped into the playoffs with an 11-5 record. The Cardinals were promptly bounced in the Wild Card round by the Carolina Panthers after managing just 78 total yards of offense.
Lindley is no longer on the team and the third-string quarterback position will belong to the winner of a competition between Logan Thomas, Chandler Harnish and Phillip Sims. The results of the battle have been less-than-inspiring for head coach Bruce Arians.
But the third quarterback likely won't have a role for the Cardinals in 2015 as long as Palmer can stay healthy. He'll need to be if he hopes to accomplish some of the goals that weren't fulfilled in 2014.
"[It's] as big of a feeling of unfinished business as you could have," Palmer says. "That's the main thing. We were 9-1, and things ended for me, and we just didn't finish the year strong, and it left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths -- no more than mine."
Palmer signed an extension just a few days before his season-ending injury that will pay him $58.5 million over the next four seasons. He is No. 22 on the NFL's all-time passing leaderboard with 35,365 yards and is just 103 yards away from eclipsing Jim Kelly's career total.