QB Carson Palmer looks to make the pass.Photo by Tony Gonzales
In a flurry of events last October, the Raiders acquired QB Carson Palmer via trade with the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer, coming from his Southern California couch, jumped into the Raiders season already seven games deep. With little time to build chemistry with his offensive teammates, Palmer still managed to throw for 2,753 yards and 13 touchdowns in 10 games during the 2011 season.
Palmer was selected first overall by the Bengals in the 2003 NFL Draft. After eight years in Cincinnati, the move to Oakland has been a refreshing change for Palmer. "It's been great," said Palmer. "Just a very fresh feeling, a new opportunity, a new chance, new team, everything has been fun trying to get caught up to speed with. I'm enjoying the process of everything being new."
Now, with half of a season and a full off-season under his belt with the Silver and Black, as well as half of training camp complete, Palmer feels confident leading the Raiders on (and off) the field. Palmer welcomes the leadership role that comes with being an NFL quarterback. "Absolutely embrace it," said Palmer. "That's why I started playing quarterback because I enjoy the role and I really try to do it by example and lead by example of doing the right things and being in the right place at the right time, putting in the hours that I do and just trying to bring young guys in different positions all over the field along and show them how to be pros."
Head Coach Dennis Allen has recognized Palmer's ability to lead. "I think his presence, his leadership ability, his understanding of football, and he's developing a grasp for this offense; I think those are all similarities [to QB Drew Brees]. The work ethic…Carson, he works extremely hard at his craft and I think that's why people gravitate to him."
Palmer has high expectations for the Raiders, an important component of being the team's leader. "We are out here working every day for a Super Bowl and nothing less," said Palmer.
The nine-year NFL veteran knows how important an off-season is in order to come together as a team and have a chance at making the playoffs. "[Having an off-season is] huge," explained Palmer. "With a brand new offense and guys playing new positions and a whole new scheme, you've got to have time to develop. With two young draft picks at receiver and a young draft pick on the offensive line, you just need that time to gel and to learn and to just rep out all the different plays we have."
Palmer also knows that playing smart is another key to success. "I think the first thing we have to do is play smart," said Palmer. "Not hurt ourselves, not have penalties where we lose first downs or we lose opportunities for the other team to punt…just playing smart and not beating ourselves."
The former Heisman Trophy winner has two coaches to lean on as the Raiders look to improve on the 2011 season. "[Not only are they] great coaches, but great people," said Palmer. "[Offensive coordinator] Coach [Greg] Knapp has been very successful in this league at a bunch of different places and I'm just honored to have the opportunity to play for him and learn from him, and [quarterbacks] Coach [John DeFilippo] the same way; he's been with Coach Knapp a couple different times, he coached college, NFL, New York Giants, New York Jets. He's been around, but [he's] a great teacher and he really understands Coach Knapp's system and they work really well together too which is really beneficial for us quarterbacks."
Having former USC teammate QB Matt Leinart on the team has also been beneficial for Palmer. "Selfishly it's been great for me, because he's been in this offense going on three years now," explained Palmer. "There's times that Knapp will say something and Matt will say it in a different way and it'll hit me a little bit different way. It will hit me in a way coming from a guy that experienced that play experience that rep. So it's been really good for me to just speed up this process of getting to learn the playbook and getting comfortable with this playbook."
With the support of teammates and coaches, Palmer is excited to don the Silver and Black each week. "I think it's one of the coolest uniforms, if not the coolest uniform, in the league," said Palmer. "I had a Raider t-shirt with a big Raider shield when I was little and always loved the uniform."
Palmer is ready for the 2012 season and to be the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. "It's a dream come true," said Palmer. "I grew up loving football and loving the position of quarterback and to finally have the opportunity to do it, it's a huge honor and I take great pride in it and realize that I'm really blessed and very lucky to even be here in the first place."