GLENDALE, Ariz. – Carson Palmer took every snap of the 2013 season from one center.
So, when Lyle Sendlein went down early in Monday’s Arizona Cardinals practice with a calf injury, it was expected that Palmer would need time to adjust to his new center, Ted Larsen. Palmer fumbled their first snap, but after that, Palmer found Larsen’s sweet spot and their snaps were seamless for the rest of practice.
“You get so used to one guy and then all of a sudden another guy comes in, you just got to find out where to put your hands and where where he consistently snaps the ball,” Palmer said. “And Ted snaps it consistently to one spot, and I found the spot, and it’s not an issue anymore.”
Sendlein is expected to miss the next three weeks, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday morning. He’s aiming to have Sendlein, an eight-year veteran who went undrafted out of Texas, back for the third or fourth preseason game. That will give Sendlein and Palmer a chance to rekindle their routine.
“Lyle’s as integral a part of this offense as anybody is,” Palmer said. “He’s very, very underrated. (He’s) been a very good player for a long time. Really, really smart, very poised. Helps everybody out around him. So, when you lose that guy, it’s obviously a blow, but it’s a great opportunity.”
For the next few weeks, Larsen will be in charge of dictating protections and making sure there’s a smooth exchange at center. Until Monday, when Larsen replaced Sendlein, he practiced as a backup guard and occasionally at center. Larsen has started 31 of 60 career games, but playing with the first team this week has been a reminder of how competitive the first team is.
“It’s a lot more competition,” Larsen said. “It’s the ones, so it’s fast.”
Palmer said Larsen’s camp experience will benefit 27-year-old, especially after Sendlein returns. Larsen isn’t expected to be a starter this year, but he’ll likely be kept on the roster as the backup swing guard and center.
“I think when Lyle does get back, it’ll make him a better guard just having that experience at center,” Palmer said. “Making the calls, being the guy that everybody’s listening to and then when you go back to guard, you’re probably making the same calls at the same time Lyle is just because of the experience he has there.”
It will be tough for Palmer and Larsen to recreate the chemistry that Palmer shares with Sendlein, but Palmer isn’t concerned about Sendlein falling behind during the most important time of camp. If adjustments are made to blocking schemes or the offense, Sendlein has been absorbing those from the sideline.
Having a few weeks off from camp while still being engaged mentally is a good thing for Sendlein, Arians said.
“He’s a veteran. He knows what he’s doing,” Arians said. “It’s a blessing in a lot of ways. He stays healthier and some young guys get a lot of good reps.”