By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 at 3:42 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders starting quarterback Carson Palmer has kept a low profile since the season ended. He spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the man who engineered a controversial trade for him, coach Hue Jackson, got fired in January.
Among other things, Palmer says he is “happy” with the Raiders, that he intends to meet with the team’s wide receivers in March and that the Raiders are close to being a “championhip” team.
Here is the entire transcript of Palmer’s interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio, with former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon and Adam Schein posing the questions:
Q: Your thoughts on the change of Hue Jackson to Dennis Allen?
Palmer: It was tough. Myself and a lot of guys on the team were close with Hue, and good friends, and looked up to Hue in a lot of different ways. It’s going to be different. It sounds like things are really changing in a lot of different areas and going in a number of different directions, so it will be exciting and this team will be ready to roll once the offseason kicks off in April.
Q: Dennis Allen said you are an exceptional quarterback, what goes through your mind when you hear that?
Palmer: It’s nice to hear somebody sing your praises, obviously, and now, from here, I gottta go out and prove that and hopefully exceed his expectations this season.
Q: A chance to sit down, talk to Reggie McKenzie or Dennis Allen about the different direction they’re taking this organization?
Palmer: Not really. I talked to Reggie McKenzie a couple of days after he’d been hired, just more of a kind of meet and greet, and I talked to coach Allen once on the phone and he’s very energetic. I know he’s very excited at this opportunity and I’m excited to see what he brings to the team.
Q: Were you concerned when they let Hue go? You were in a wild situation with the Bengals, the retirement, come off the coach, Jackson trades for you, then fired . . . . now a new coach, new offensive coordinator. Can you describe last 365 days?
Palmer: No. Not in a word or one sentence even. It’s wild and I wouldn’t say concerned but I think you’re always concerned a little bit about your job especially when a new guy comes in, but at the end of the day, I’ve been busting my butt, I’m going to go in, and as soon as I get a chance to learn this offense, I’ve been trying to get a playbook and film, but there’s a lot of league-wide restrictions on that. So I haven’t even had a chance to get any information from the organization just because there’s some loop holes and different things when you change regimes. I’ve been champing at the bit and all I can really do is get prepared and be a leader, and be a veteran, and help out the young guys and take care of my job and the reset of it, it falls how it falls. Concern isn’t the right word, I’m just excited at getting an opportunity and looking forward to the future.
Q: How are things going to be different this year with an entire offseason, get a chance to work with Greg Knapp, your plans between now and minicamp?
Palmer: I’m getting ready to head up to L.A. to train. The guy I’ve been training with for the last seven or eight years has a gym up there and that’s where I spend the offseason, getting ready with him. I’ve been in contact with all my receivers and even guys like Marcel Reece and Kevin Boss, David Ausberry, some younger guys that Raider fans haven’t heard of that they should be excited about. We’ll get together in L.A. and have some throwing sessions set up before we get back to Oakland and before we get the playbook, before we get to 7-on-7 sessions and the team drills that we’re going to be during OTAs and minicamps. We have a chance to get our feet and just kind of get back in the swing of things before we’re out in front of the coaches and in front of the organization, just to kind of get the rust off and get ready for those OTAs. We don’t to just show up at OTAs and say, all right, let’s go, we want to be prepared and at least somewhat on the same page or as close to being on the same page as we can be heading into OTAs.
Q: Had some difficulties in 2010, some big interception games, receivers who didn’t always run the right routes, in 2011, tough to judge, moments of brilliance and frustration . . where are you right now as a quarterback? Where are you in terms of your health?
Palmer: Health, 100 percent. Most quarterbacks this time of year, you’re feeling probably as good as you’re going to feel, I probably feel as good as I’m going to feel in all of 2012 and 2013. I was fortunate to come out of the season without any offseason surgeries or any big rehab concerns. I only played in a handful of games so I didn’t have a chance to get beat up or worn down. We finished the year at the O in front of our fans and didn’t finish the way we wanted playing against the Chargers, but after that, I felt as good as I’ve ever felt in my entire career at the end of the season because I only played barely half the season.
Q: Look back on last year, what could have been? Five games to go, right there with a shot . . . what happened last five weeks?
Palmer: What didn’t happen? Obviously losing Darren McFadden was a huge blow. He was such a huge part of the offense. Part of the passing game, part of the running game and pass protection-wise. So losing him was obviously a big blow, and Jacoby Ford, we lost for all those games. Denarius Moore, who I could not be more excited about, we lost him for a handful of games. It’s no excuse, but when you sit back and play the `what could have been’ game, and you think about losing those guys for those games, that was obviously a big blow to us. But to see a guy like Michael Bush come in and have the year he had in a backup role, and to see the way we finished, you’ve got to take your hat off to coach Jackson and the job he did offensively, and coach Al Saunders, because I think we finished in the top seven or eight or nine in offense, even with losing all those guys, so you can really get excited about the future when you think of it that way. Getting some guys healthy, and a guy I mentioned, David Ausberry, a tight end, just a freak athlete and a guy that can do so many different things. You get him back, you get Taiwan Jones, another rookie that was injured in those games, and just an explosive player that you’ve got to get excited about the things he can do with the football. There are a lot of things to get excited about and the future is definitely bright.
Q: How close are the Raiders to being a playoff team, when you talk to Reggie, coach Allen, did you talk about the this offseason and the direction, about the cap issues, what is the direction for the Raiders and how close are you to being a playoff team?
Palmer: I can’t speak on the direction of the organization, that’s definitely Mr. McKenzie and the organization and the people upstairs at the facility. That’s what they’re looking at and figuring out right now. But as far as being close to a playoff team, I think it’s more than that. I think we’re close to a championship team. There’s a lot of work that needs to be put in and a lot of hurdles that we need to get over, but I think we need to be heading into this season thinking more than just playoffs and trying to get to the playoffs and trying to win the AFC West. I think it’s bigger than that, and we definitely have a lot of pieces to the puzzle than being more than just a playoff team.
Q: As far as talent at wide receiver position, are you convinced there’s enough talent there? Some youth, inexperience . . . is that an area you need to revisit before free agency and the draft?
Palmer: Oh, I definitely think there’s definitely enough talent. You can always get better, having a veteran obviously never hurts, but there’s definitely the talent on the room. You look at Denarius Moore, what he did as a rookie, and he missed a handful of games, was amazing, not statistically or the numbers, but the big plays that he made in big games. Momentum changing plays. Big plays in big games. You look at what he can bring to the table and just talking to him, like I have this offseason and just hearing the excitement of his voice, and the disappointment in his voice that he didn’t do more, couldn’t do more. Those things like that are what excite me. That’s a big time receiver in the making, and he’s only going to get better. Then you look at Darrius Heyward-Bey, had the best year of his career. Jacoby Ford was hurt a lot but made some tremendous plays. And then Louis Murphy, a guy that was the leading receiver on the team in years past and didn’t have the year he wanted. And is just hungry and anticipating a big year for himself. So there’s a handful of guys that you get real excited about, that need a lot of work and a lot of polishing, but I don’t think it’s a concern or an area of concern or should be an area of concern because we’re close at that position.
Q: You sound energized, how much did you need a change of scenery?
Palmer: I don’t want a change of scenery, I’m happy where I am.
Q: No, how much did you need it from Cincinnati?
Palmer: I think that happens in a lot of people’s careers. I was a point in my career where it needed to happen, obviously. But to be where I am and to be where I am in my career, going into year 10, having the pieces to the puzzle that the organization has, and going through a change which is obviously always difficult, but I couldn’t be more excited. Playing an abbreviated season like I did and seeing how close we were after such turmoil throughout the entire year, the entire team, not just myself. I’m just excited. I can’t wait to get going. We start April 2, and April 2 can’t get here soon enough.
Q: Left an organization that has had some issues in the past in terms of leadership and accountability, you go to Oakland, which has had it own issues with disfunction. Your first impression about Oakland and what has to change now that you’ve been there and had a chance to look under the hood?
Palmer: My first impression was a great one. Right when I got there, you feel within the organization that there’s an attitude of we’ll do whatever it takes to win, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about money, it’s not about anything other than winning. That was my first impression and from the few talks I’ve had with a couple of coaches, it sounds like there’s been some real good meetings, there’s been some real good opportunities within the organization to get together and talk about what has to happen, what needs to change, what doesn’t need to happen or doesn’t need to change. So it sounds like things are really coming together for the best. Obviously when Mr. Davis passed, losing him was such a huge blow to the organization. He was such a huge part of the organization and involved in so many things, and when you lose that leader, it was the right decision to bring in a GM and bring in a new leader, and I’m just excited to see where the new GM Reggie McKenzie is going to take this thing.
Q: Do you feel any pressure to live up to that trade?
Palmer: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, without a doubt. Playing the position of quarterback, there’s always pressure, and there’s always outside pressures, but with myself, I’ve always put more inside pressure, more internal pressure that I put on myself is bigger than anything I heard or felt from the outside. With the trade and with all that’s gone on throughout my career, I feel a tremendous amount of pressure and I love it. That’s why I started playing quarterback at a young age, the ball’s in your hands every single play. There’s only two players that can say that, and that’s the center and the quarterback and I’ve always relished being in that position and just all the little things that come long with it. The expectations from a leadership role, the expectations from performance and obviously the outside pressures that come with the position.
Q: New offensive coordinator, what type of changes do you anticipate with Greg Knapp?
Palmer: I don’t know. I can’t wait to find out. I’ve been trying to get my hands on a playbook, but like I said before there’s some loopholes with the new regime coming in and all these new CBA, NFLPA, all that stuff that’s been going on the last year.
Q: Is there anything that prohibits you from calling Matt Schaub, who was with Knapp in Houston? No rules against calling buddies around the league.
Palmer: Him, and Matt Leinart, and Kevin Walter are all buddies and I’ve talked to all them, and everybody’s raved about him. I’ve talked to a handful of guys that are still with the Raiders who played for him when he was with the Raiders a couple years back. I’ve asked around plenty, and I’ve gotten my hands on some 2010 film, some older Texans film, where they were kind of doing some of the same stuff with the long play action stuff and what excites me about it is it sounds like it’s a lot of play action, a lot of boots, and throwing the ball down the field, and using, it sounds like we’re going to use that speed we have on the outside and try to throw the ball over people’s heads. We did that quite ab it last year and had quite a bit of success throwing the ball deep and it sounds like it’s going to be some of the same stuff and I’m excited to see the direction of the run game. It sounds like it’s going to be a zone running scheme and there’s definitely a lot of excitement, not just myself, exchanging words with Tyvon Branch, hopefully we get him back, he’s a safety that had a great year and he’s had a great career in Oakland and I know he’s excited about some of the changes on defense. I keep saying it, but it’s an exciting time.
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