ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – For their first three outings of the season, the Denver Broncos have chased three mobile quarterbacks from one sideline to the other, with somewhat mixed results.
And while they might not know who will line up behind center for the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, they know what type of quarterback he will be. Carson Palmer, the Cardinals starter who is a familiar face to the Broncos from his time with the Oakland Raiders, has a right shoulder injury and is still a question mark for the game.
The Broncos spoke Monday as if they believe Palmer, who has given somewhat lukewarm responses to his prospects for Sunday’s game in Sports Authority Field at Mile High, would play. But even if Drew Stanton fills in, the Broncos will face primarily a pocket passer.
“I think as far as the front, it will be good that we don’t have to go against a guy who’s going to try to beat you with his feet," defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. “(Palmer) is a more conventional type of quarterback and it’ll give us an opportunity to get sacks now. But he’s definitely a veteran guy."
The Broncos have faced Andrew Luck, Alex Smith and Russell Wilson in their first three games. All three threw for at least 250 yards -- Luck went for 370 yards in the Broncos’ Week 1 win -- but Luck also ran for a touchdown while Smith and Wilson rushed for 42 and 40 yards, respectively.
Wilson, who the Broncos had largely held in check during regulation two Sundays ago, converted a third-and-3 and third-and-4 by running the ball in the Seahawks’ game-winning drive in overtime.
“We just didn’t quite keep him where we needed to on that drive," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. “ … When they can run that puts some pressure on what you’re doing on defense."
The Cardinals have gone 2-0 with Stanton at quarterback. Stanton was just 14-of-29 passing for 167 yards in the Cardinals’ win over the New York Giants and 18-of-33 for 244 yards in Arizona’s win over San Francisco. He ran for minus-2 and 16 yards, respectively, in those two wins.
Palmer hasn’t played since Week 1 against the San Diego Chargers. He threw for 302 and ran for 29 in that season-opening win.
“Carson Palmer, I think he’s underrated," Broncos safety Rahim Moore said. “He looks great on film. They’ve got a great receiving corps … We’ve got to come ready to play or it could be ugly.”
The Broncos will be at full strength defensively for the first time this season with linebacker Danny Trevathan's expected return to the lineup. And with either Stanton or Palmer, the Broncos might have the opportunity to be a little more aggressive in the pass rush than they have been thus far.
The Broncos have eight sacks in their three games, tied for 13th in the league despite most teams have played one more game. They have largely rushed four on most passing downs thus far -- on all but 12 snaps against the Colts and all but nine against the Chiefs.
“We’ll just have to go out there and outplay their defense," Moore said. “They have a lot of weapons on offense. We’ll just have to approach it like any other week and just break them down, day by day."