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Porous offensive line leaves Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer under fire

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The Sports Xchange
Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer (L) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers' DeForest Buckner in the fourth quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on October 1, 2017. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 18-15 in overtime. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Arizona Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer (L) is sacked by San Francisco 49ers' DeForest Buckner in the fourth quarter at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on October 1, 2017. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 18-15 in overtime. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- At the rate Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer keeps getting sacked, his offensive line and the rest of Arizona's alleged blockers might put him in David Carr territory.

Carr was sacked an NFL-record 76 times during his rookie year with the Texans in 2002.

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Palmer is on pace to get awfully close to that staggering total. With 17 sacks through just four games, he could end up getting dumped 68 times. And that's assuming the offensive line doesn't play any worse than its current level, which is dangerously bad.

Palmer was sacked six times Sunday during the Cardinals' 18-15 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers, and he was hit 16 times overall. Palmer has been hit 43 times this season, the highest total among NFL quarterbacks.

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Still, Palmer was able to hang in against a winless San Francisco team and pass for 357 yards and a game-winning, 19-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald to win it with 32 seconds left in overtime.

"I'm tired," Palmer said afterward, "but hopefully we have a walkthrough on Wednesday and we don't have to practice. We came off a short week against a team that had a long week with a lot of chances to recover, and they're a very young team.

"But I have a multi-step process for myself that I go through to get ready for Sundays, and I'll be ready."

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The Cardinals once again were playing without their usual starting left tackle and left guard. Tackle D.J. Humphries missed his third consecutive game after sustaining a sprained MCL in his knee during the first quarter of Arizona's season-opening loss at Detroit. Guard Mike Iupati injured his triceps prior to Week 2 and on Saturday was placed on injured reserve because a bone spur broke loose in his elbow and was shredding a tendon in his arm.

In their place on Sunday were second-year pro John Wetzel at left tackle and rookie Will Holden, a fifth-round pick, at left guard. They held up all right for a while, but as Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians noted afterward, "There were some moments that were scary."

Good news could be coming in another week or two. Veteran guard Alex Boone, who sustained a slight pectoral strain in Arizona's loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 25, is expected to return and play through the injury without having surgery. He can fill in at left guard if he stays healthy.

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The right side of the line, however, is also a mess. Tackle Jared Veldheer had been battling poor technique issues, especially with his hand placement, and was getting beaten routinely on bull rushes. He was better on Sunday for the most part, but he wasn't flawless by any means.

Meanwhile, right guard Evan Boehm was whistled three times for holding and was also beaten on some rushes up the middle.

"Oh man, Carson stood in there," Fitzgerald said. "He took some shots. I mean the first play, I felt so bad. I had to block a defensive end and got him hit. I told him as soon as I could, 'Carson, I'm so sorry man. I'm sorry man.' I was part of the battle and just trying to keep him clean so he can do his thing.

"But he's as tough as they come. He never flinches, never wavers, and we're very happy to have him as our quarterback."

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