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Carson Palmer goes from 'freaking out' to "very comfortable" in game planning each week

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The process requires a lot of hard work from Palmer, but he loves it.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

By now, if you follow the Arizona Cardinals and social media, you have at least heard or seen a mention of the Peter King story on MMQB about quarterback Carson Palmer and his preparation each week for the next opponent. That story is worth reading in its entirety.

It reveals a lot about Palmer and what the Cardinals do to get ready for an opponent.

For the game against the Cleveland Browns, they had 171 plays prepared. 171 plays for which he has to learn formations, personnel, progressions, protections and defensive tendencies.

The result? "Freaking out," he told King.

"I have so much to do," he explained. "But I'm weird. I'll get it done. I always do. And I'll get it done with plenty of time, and I will feel fantastic on Friday."

He says it is hard work for him. He isn't like some players he knows who can just look at a play once or twice and get it.  I've got to study it over and over until I get it," he said. "It's hard work, play after play."

He also thrives on it.

"I know this is weird, but I love the feeling of, ‘Man, I have so much s--- to do, and it's already Tuesday and I'm a day behind,'" he told King, explaining that because of playing on Monday night, he didn't get his plays until late Tuesday, rather than earlier in the day. "Does that make any sense? It's not challenging to the point where I feel it's too much, but it's challenging to the point where, man, I just love it. And I'll get this."

This is the type of guy Palmer is. He is driven to "relentless, tireless effort."

When I sat down with Palmer in his home on the bye week, I asked him about that work ethic with which he goes about preparing.

"I think it's the work ethic that was instilled in me (from my youth)," he told me. "If I was a reporter, if I was an insurance agent, if I worked in a bank, if I did anything , I would put that much effort unto it because that's all I know and I grew up around a father where that's all I saw was hard work and that's the only way to get it done.

"I'm fortunate I love all the aspects of my job. I enjoy the hard work of it, but I think whatever my job was, I would hope I would put that same ind of effort and relentless, tireless effort in to the hours and the weeks and the days the job asked me."

The rest of the week is practice, studying plays in a binder and a tablet (he is the only player who still wants a binder of plays on paper to go with the tablet), using the virtual reality technology he and others on the Cardinals are using and finally, Saturday night, sitting down with Bruce Arians to finalize things.

"I love that time with him on Saturday night," Palmer says. "I always want more. But he's the head coach. He's got so much to do. He's heavily involved in personnel, so the only time we get to sit down is Saturday nights. I would love to have 30 minutes a day and say, ‘Why is this in?' So I'll come up with 15 questions and try to figure out which ones are the dumbest, and I'll get rid of those, and then I'll go to him with, like, three. I'll try to figure out which questions I really need answers to."

More of this relentless effort to know more and do more. It is what makes Palmer great here.

By the end of the week, he is "very comfortable with everything," a stark change from the "freaking out" from earlier in the week.

The result for that week was an important win. They fell behind 20-7, but rallied and buried the Browns 34-20. Palmer threw for 374 yards and four touchdowns.

All in a week's work, right?