TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer took advantage of the team's bye week to spend time doing what he called "self-scout."

"I learned a lot," he said on Wednesday. "I had a chance to really go back and look at third downs and red zones ... and look for any tells or any tendencies and try to improve on that in the second half."

Of course, Palmer wouldn't say what he found but said he has done the same kind of exercise in other seasons.

"Everybody obviously scouts you, as we scout other teams," he said, "but I've always used the bye week as a really good chance to self-scout and try to look for things that guys (opponents) might be looking for, and kind of do the opposite."

Palmer has had an often difficult time with coach Bruce Arians' offense through the first eight games, although he did bounce back from an early interception against Atlanta just before the bye week, passing for two touchdowns in a 27-13 victory over the Falcons.

That game marked the first time since the season opener that Palmer had more touchdown passes than interceptions.

Against the Falcons, Palmer completed 13 of 18 for 172 yards. He was greatly helped by the presence, finally, of a ground game for Arizona, led by rookie Andre Ellington, who rushed for 154 yards in 15 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run.

Palmer downplayed any improvement he displayed.

"Personally, I played well enough for us to get a win, and we played well enough to get us a win," he said. "Definitely (there is) a lot of room for improvement. We had some third downs we'd like to convert on."

Arians said that the time off helps all the players, particularly the quarterback.

"Just to let your arm heal," the coach said. "He should be fresh and ready to go."

Next up is a home game against Houston. Continuing that offensive momentum will be a difficult chore against the Texans, who despite a 2-6 record and a six-game losing streak, have the top-ranked defense in the NFL.

"This is a heck of a challenge when you play the No. 1 defense," Arians said, "but it is better to have them here than at their place. It's extremely tough at their place when you get the crowd noise involved. I would hope that we will continue to improve."

Palmer should have a healthier Larry Fitzgerald after the standout receiver had some time to heal a troublesome hamstring injury that had slowed him since Week 2.

"Larry is not the only guy who's banged up," Palmer said. "There are a lot of guys with little things here and there — bumps and bruises, scrapes — and it gives you a chance to rest. You can get treatment on a lot of things, but a lot of the time the best remedy is just rest."

With Arizona at 4-4, Palmer has completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,913 yards and 10 touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Despite the offense's problems, Palmer isn't far off the pace he would need to top 4,000 yards passing, something he did last season and has done three times overall in his decade in the league.

The victory over Atlanta, and the improved offensive performance that came with it, sent the Cardinals into the bye week with some confidence.

"Having a chance to play at home, getting a win, having a chance to go back and look at yourself then come back and play at home is huge," Palmer said. "We get a great home field advantage from our fans and from our stadium, and coming off a win you just want to keep on building."

Notes: Left tackle Bradley Sowell and inside linebacker Daryl Washington missed Wednesday's practice due to illness. Wide receiver Brittan Golden sat out with a hamstring injury. OLB John Abraham (shoulder), RB Rashard Mendenhall (toe) and defensive end Frostee Rocker (knee) were limited.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx