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QB Palmer works to gain chemistry with Fitzgerald
By BOB BAUM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) This week's sweltering session of OTAs came to an end for the Arizona Cardinals with quarterback Carson Palmer saying he still has work to do before he has a thorough grasp of coach Bruce Arians' offense.
Gaining an appreciation of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a bit easier.
"It's been awesome," Palmer said after Thursday's workout. "I threw him a ball today that he and maybe Megatron (Calvin Johnson) catch. He's maybe not one of a kind but one of two of a kind."
For his part, Fitzgerald - who has endured a dearth of quarterback talent since Kurt Warner retired - says there's not a throw Palmer can't make.
"He's got great touch on his intermediate passes - he can put zip on them or he can feather it in there," Fitzgerald said. "And then he's got the intelligence and experience to go out there and make plays. I've seen him do it. He threw for 4,000 yards in Oakland."
The 33-year-old quarterback and former No. 1 draft pick is enjoying a fresh start after the Cardinals acquired him from the Raiders, then signed him to a two-year contract. Arians, meanwhile, arrived from the Indianapolis Colts, where he tutored Andrew Luck and, as interim coach when Chuck Pagano left to battle leukemia, earned NFL coach of the year honors.
Palmer said Arians' system is different from the ones he had with Oakland and Cincinnati.
"I'm getting there but there's always something to learn," he said. "There's something to learn every day, especially with BA (Arians) in your headset, telling you something he sees that maybe you didn't see or he sees right at the same time that I saw it. So it's a work in progress and it will be a work in progress for as long as I have the opportunity to play for coach."
He said that while he's comfortable with the offense as of now, he still has to study it every night and has plenty to work on in the next week's minicamp, then in training camp and into the preseason.
"So I'm comfortable," Palmer said, "but I'm nowhere near just saying, `Oh, got this. I've got it now.'"
Arians said his offense makes it tough on quarterbacks because of the multiple decisions they make on the run, from reading defenses to determining what protection to call to even calling two or three plays in the huddle, then deciding which of those plays to follow through with and run as he surveys the field at the line of scrimmage.
"So yeah, we ask our quarterbacks to do a lot," he said. "... I think he's progressing nicely."
As for chemistry, that's something that takes time, Arians said.
"Especially with Larry at multiple positions now," he said. "That takes well into training camp before they're very comfortable with where they're heading on each play and versus each coverage. I saw the same type of chemistry last year with Reggie Wayne and Andrew as they developed. I see the same thing happening."
Palmer said that as they worked through the offseason, he and Fitzgerald grew more and more comfortable with one another.
"We can play together for 15 years and it's never perfect," he said. "It's always a work in progress. It's something you continue to try to make better and better each day. But we have a good start going into minicamp. That's three more long, hard practices where we have a lot of opportunities, then a good kickoff into training camp. We'll be ready to roll by then."
Chemistry, he said, involves "body language, routes."
"There's a lot of reading on the run in this offense, seeing the same things, being on the same page for the right depth of routes and breaking in the right depths," Palmer said. "It's never perfect. It's something we'll continue to get better and better at, but I think he and I are both very comfortable with where we are for right now."
Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx
Updated June 6, 2013