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Carson Palmer 'still has it,' Cardinals' Bruce Arians says

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wants to put his "most frustrating season" behind him. One reason he sounds optimistic that might happen is because of new quarterback Carson Palmer.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, who brings his vertical passing game with him to the desert, talked up Palmer's ability to chuck it down the field.

"I think the biggest thing is just his experience level," Arians told ESPN's Merril Hoge on Sunday. "He's tough as nails. As good a deep-ball thrower as I've ever seen. I mean really accurate on the deep ball. He still has it. What he did last year with the Raiders, in a crazy situation, I thought was very, very impressive."

The slight shot at the Oakland Raiders aside, there might not be a better offensive scheme for Palmer's skill set. Palmer always has been able to sling it deep, and Arians' offense is predicated on stretching the defense vertically, which opens up other areas of the field.

There are bigger questions that need addressing: Will Palmer's dubious decision-making dissipate? Will the restacked offensive line be able to protect him? Does Palmer possess the ability to extend the play so those deep patterns can materialize -- something Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck excelled at in Arians' offense.

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Two other notable topics Arians hit on with Hoge:

» When asked what made him confident in the much-maligned Tyrann Mathieu's ability to stay out of trouble, Arians simply cited his veteran players: "Patrick Peterson stands on the table for him," Arians said, noting he puts trust in his veteran players to give him good advice.

» Arians shared the story of how he felt the first time he saw the lights off in Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano's office. (When he took over after Pagano was diagnosed with cancer, Arians insisted the light in Pagano's office be left on until the coach returned to work.)

"Christmas Eve, we had our normal game-plan meetings and I was walking out of the building and all of a sudden I looked and the light was off," Arians said. "I had to get in the car and dry up some tears before I could drive home. It was an extremely emotional night -- the best Christmas I've ever had."

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.

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