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Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer returns to practice, feels great

Quarterback Carson Palmer watched the Arizona Cardinals' win over the San Francisco 49ers from his couch, waiting to be cleared by the NFL's concussion protocol.

On Tuesday, Palmer was cleared. On Wednesday, he participated fully in practice and is expected to start when the Cardinals host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

"Felt great. Good to be back. Unfortunately we had the Thursday game after what happened with me happened, and I felt like I could have played Sunday," Palmer said. "I felt great all through the weekend and was just waiting around, it felt like forever, for Wednesday to get here."

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Palmer did "everything" in Wednesday's practice. It took Arians 10 minutes to hear from Palmer after Thursday's game, via a congratulatory text message.

"You always want your leader out there, and he is the leader," Arians said. "He was lifting weights Saturday, Sunday. He was in the building almost the whole time. I think he probably, they could have cleared him last Saturday. But we just took our time, there's no hurry."

Prior to the concussion he suffered in Week 4 when the Cardinals lost at home to the Rams, Palmer wasn't off to a great start. His completion percentage is 58.8 percent, down from the 63.4 he logged in his first three seasons in Arizona. His passer rating of 81.9 is significantly down from 104.3 in 2015. He has thrown for six touchdowns with five interceptions, and he isn't connecting on deep throws as often as he has in past seasons.

"We've left a lot of yards out there underthrowing, throwing 50-50 balls, instead of just shooting them up the field," Arians said. "If they give you the deep one, take it, but let's hit it."

Palmer acknowledged that he has to improve on such attempts.

"There's been some that I've underthrown, there's been some that [defenses] just played coverage and they were basically long throwaways," Palmer said.

Palmer didn't figure to miss more than one game with the concussion, eager as he was to play.

"My wife was definitely freaked out, but I was ready to play if we had a Sunday game. That is a part of our reality as football players," Palmer said. "You play long enough, you see enough guys that retire or continue to play through them or whatever it may be. The balance is you just go with how you feel and you go with what the doctors say."

Palmer won't have two mainstays on the offensive line, guards Evan Mathis and Mike Iupati, protecting him on Monday. Both were injured in last week's game, replaced by Earl Watford and John Wetzel, who is listed as a tackle. Mathis was placed on injured reserve. Arians said he hopes to get Iupati back soon.

"It's tough to replace the experience, the size. But that's the NFL. The next guy's got to step up," Palmer said.

Tight end Darren Fells could be back to full speed in Thursday's practice after missing last week with a shoulder injury.