OTA rules force Carson Palmer to become a pretender

Organized team activities is an odd time for NFL players. Every success or failure comes with the caveat of practices being conducted in shorts, sans pads.

Outside of the pads and time restraints during OTAs, teams aren't allowed to run certain types of defenses, including press man coverage on the outside. With those limitations, offenses could pick apart defenses if they wanted -- think of it as playing against soft prevent coverage all of the time.

The rules force players to get creative to improve their timing and precision. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer plays make-believe.

"I'm kind of just pretending," Palmer said, via the team's official website. "I'll say that guy's 'pressed,' and I'm going to work the other side of the field. I could throw a million hitches. I could throw a hitch every time out here. Even though they're playing Cover 2, they're not allowed to get within a certain number of yards, and we're very strict about rules and making sure we're following all those rules."

Even after 13 seasons, Palmer uses those pretend situations to test his arm and the scheme.

"He went back into coverages to see if he could make some throws and that's what you want out of your quarterback," coach Bruce Arians said. "You have to find out, 'Can I make these throws in these windows?' Not just always take the guy who is wide-ass open. I really like that about that about him."

Young quarterbacks need OTAs to learn their limitations, but even for a vet like Palmer this is a safe time for a quarterback to take chances.

"A lot of it, I come back and go, 'Man, that's why I don't like that, or why I shouldn't do that,'" Palmer said. "It's good reinforcement."

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