Five takeaways from Cardinals minicamp

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Cardinals wrapped up Day 1 of their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Here are five storylines from the session:

» Carson Palmer is back and ahead of schedule. Coach Bruce Arians called his quarterback's first eleven on eleven action since sustaining a season ending knee injury last November "outstanding." Arians didn't expect to have his quarterback return until training camp, which is still seven weeks away.

» Palmer confirmed he was wearing a knee brace under his pants and he will continue to do so.

» Having knee surgery in 2006 on his right knee helped Palmer know what to expect this time around. Palmer says his recovery has been exactly the same and he knows what to do. That's why he's in a better place this time.

» Larry Fitzgerald still looks as strong and fit as ever, but the chemistry building between Palmer and second year wide receiver John Brown was on full display, especially on deep routes.

"I expect huge things from him this year. There is something different about him," Palmer told me after practice.

Word around the Cardinals building is that his Brown is stronger, in better shape and people are taking notice of his work ethic. (Wide receiver Michael Floyd sat out with a tweaked hamstring) Carson and Brown will continue working together after this week's minicamp ends. Brown will work out in San Diego with Palmer. Fantasy players take note.

» Palmer called the offensive line's protection phenomenal, but it's Arizona's ability to run the ball that might most help Palmer elude pressure this upcoming season. Arizona ranked 31st running the ball in 2014 and too often didn't have enough balance on offense.

Running back Andre Ellington is 100 percent after missing the end of last season with a hip injury. Rookie third round draft pick David Johnson is a bigger, heavier, grinder and should bring a change of pace to the running game. He's already spent some time working with the starters.

Follow Alex Flanagan on Twitter @Alex_Flanagan.

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