Prior to Carson Palmer's ACL tear early last November, the Cardinals boasted the NFL's best record at 8-1. Without Palmer available to steer Bruce Arians' offense, Arizona managed to go just 3-5 the rest of the way.
In other words, Arians understands that his team is a legitimate Super Bowl contender -- as long as the 35-year-old Palmer can play at a high level.
"He knows the clock's ticking," Arians said Tuesday, via the team's official website. "It is for a lot of guys on this team. You get a window to make a run and most of it depends on your quarterback. Right now, it's our window. There is a sense of urgency."
Six months after surgery, Palmer has exceeded expectations for his recovery. Although he has been limited to 7-on-7 drills during OTAs, Arians isn't ruling out 11-on-11 work by minicamp.
Armed with the realization that the end of his career could come on any play going forward, Palmer has been more intense in this recovery than he was in his previous ACL surgery.
"I thought I was this way five years ago," Palmer said. "Now I am here and I realize I only have a couple of opportunities left and I was not this way. I was not this intense about everything. ... (The end) wasn't as close to reality as it is now."
If it's truly now or never for Palmer and the Cardinals, the good news is that he has shown steady improvement under Arians' golden touch.
Over Palmer's last 15 games, few quarterbacks have performed better:
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