Mark McClune: ‘It’s Been A Soap Opera Here In The Desert’

Carson Palmer suffered a torn ACL in a 31-14 win over St. Louis on Sunday, giving Arizona Cardinals fans yet another reason to question the competitiveness of their team going forward.

“It’s been a soap opera here in the desert,” CBS 5 Phoenix’s Mark McClune said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Between Darnell Dockett going down in the preseason, Karlos Dansby leaving, Daryl Washington getting suspended, Jonathan Dwyer getting arrested – (it’s been crazy). They finally get things rolling and Carson Palmer goes down with a blown knee. It is a little cliche with the whole ‘Next man up’ mentality that every team in the NFL says they march to. But with Bruce Arians, he was that guy in Indianapolis a couple years ago when Chuck Pagano got sick, and he said he wasn’t ready to be the head coach and he stepped in and look where he is now. It’s certainly interesting every week. I can’t wait to see what happens when the Lions come to town on Sunday.”

Interestingly enough, Palmer, 34, had just signed a three-year extension with the Cardinals, a deal that included $20 million guaranteed. How crazy is it that he got hurt in his very next game?

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” McClune said. “From all reports, he says he’ll be back next year. Carson Palmer said that (Monday). I think the Cardinals really like him. It’s not like he hurt his arm. Carson Palmer’s not going to beat you with his feet. He’s blown out his knee before. He throws, for my money, one of the best deep balls in the league. His touch has just been amazing.”

In one practice drill, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians places a bucket 40 or 50 yards downfield. That’s Palmer’s target. Amazingly, Palmer hits it more often than you would think.

“I think they’re very happy with the quarterback position,” McClune said. “The $20 million guaranteed, that’s just kind of the price of stability right now in the NFL after what we went through around here after Kurt Warner hung them up.”

On the one hand, the Cardinals are still 8-1, they still have the best record in football and they still have a two-game lead over Seattle (6-3) in the NFC West. On the other hand, losing Palmer changes everything – both from a Vegas perspective and from a fan perspective.

Can Drew Stanton actually lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl?

“I guess if you’re asking an honest question right now, I don’t think they’re going to win the Super Bowl,” McClune said. “But I didn’t think they’d be 8-1. I didn’t think they’d be in this position in training camp. It’s magical about the team. Every week it’s something.”

It’s worth noting that Stanton, 30, is far more mobile than Palmer, who struggled against the Rams’ pass rush on Sunday. It’s also worth nothing that Stanton, not Palmer, threw the go-ahead, 48-yard touchdown pass to John Brown Sunday.

“I guess I don’t believe they’re going to win the Super Bowl,” McClune said, “but I really could see a scenario where they’re playing in their home stadium come February.”

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