Quarterback Carson Palmer is in his first full season with the Raiders. He arrived midseason last year and without benefit of an offseason or training camp, yet he stepped in for the injured Jason Campbell and showed that he still has what it takes to be a top-tier quarterback.
Palmer has looked sharp in camp so far. He looks at ease with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s West Coast offense, rolling out without difficulty, making every throw and displaying the kind of leadership that coach Dennis Allen wants from his quarterback.
He spoke with the media after practice Tuesday. Here’s the transcript:
Q: Did you throw the ball to Goodson on the play he got hurt–did you see what happened?
PALMER: I didn’t see it. I threw it to him and then he had cut up field and I turned around was walking back towards the huddle. I heard the hit and turned around and saw him on the ground.
Q: How scary is it to see that?
PALMER: It’s scary when it happens to anybody. When you hear of a neck or a back injury or a head injury it scares you. Just so disappointed for Mike, just because he’d been doing so good and had look so explosive and so fast. Everybody was getting excited about what he could do for our team. We’re all praying and hoping it isn’t serious.
Q: How hard is it to keep practicing after something like that?
PALMER: It’s not easy. But that’s the game. You don’t want to say it, but that’s part of the deal. Guys go down and sometimes they go off on stretchers, sometimes they go off on the back of a little golf cart, sometimes they go off on their own. But it’s just part of the game. Unfortunately you practice it because you have to do it in games. You have to get off the field in the middle of the game.
Q: How is it going for you so far?
PALMER: It’s been a grind. Tomorrow’s the seventh day in a row full padded practice. With double-days every other day. Lots of meetings, lots of installs. But a great opportunity, especially for young guys and really for everybody just because everything is so new. A lot of stuff, it is our second time installing it since we stalled it in the OTAs and in minicamp. But just a great opportunity to learn and we’re getting every opportunity to do it. Long meetings. Long hours. Long hours on the field. But that’s why we’re here, that’s what we’re here for. After this first preseason game, going into the second game, we’re going to have a really good dose of the playbook under our belts and will have had lots of reps because of all the opportunities we’re getting practicing.
Q: You knew about all the boots and movement in this West Coast offense. But now that you’re out here doing them at almost full speed, is it feeling natural for you?
PALMER: It’s really not a whole lot different or more than I’ve done in the past. It gets talked about a lot and I’m not sure exactly why–it’s just different launch points, like coach Knapp said. I’m very comfortable doing it and enjoying everything we’re installing in the offense. The boots, the nakeds, the half-rolls… there’s so many different launch points you throw the ball from in this offense. The more opportunities I get a chance to do it, I’m liking it more and more.
Q: The timing with the WRs seems to be even more important because you’re both on the move. Does that make the relationship with the WRs even more important?
PALMER: I don’t think it does. But you’re right, when you’re on the move and you’re running towards the sideline, the receiver can only run so far before he goes out of bounds. But the relationship with the quarterback and the receiver, whether you’re on the move or in the pocket, is always something that needs to be pinpoint accurate and something that needs to be very rhythmic and have great timing. But definitely when you’re on the run you do run out of field at some point. But we’re coming along slowly and I think we’re at a really good spot right now. We just need to keep growing. We need to get Denarius Moore–back. And get Taiwan Jones back and get those guys going with the offense.
Q: How’s your relationship with Greg Knapp and John DeFilippo?
PALMER: Awesome. Awesome. Great coaches but great people. Coach Knapp’s been very successful in this league at a bunch of different places. Just honored to have an opportunity to play for him and learn from him. And coach Flip the same way–he’s been with coach Knapp a couple different times, coached college, NFL… New York Giants, New York Jets, he’s been around. 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.
Q: It’s been reported that Pete Carroll touched based with you about Terrell Owens and that you recommended him. Could you expound on that conversation?
PALMER: Coach had reached out to me a couple times. Just knowing Coach’s style and the way he goes about teaching and leading his team, just thought that T.O. would be a great fit. I had the opportunity to play with T.O. and really enjoyed playing with him. It was a great relationship and we continued to work out afterwards. Didn’t have anything negative to say about T.O. It was a great relationship when I was there. And I just let Coach know that I thought he would fit in really well with his style and I think they’ll have a lot of success together.
Q: Have you heard from T.O. recently?
PALMER: Yeah, just traded text-messages with him the other day. Or maybe today. I think he signed today, I think he told me. I haven’t been following the news. Just texting him back and forth, congrats and go get ‘em. I think he’ll be successful there.
Q: Did he want to come here?
PALMER: He was looking for a job anywhere. I know he’s worked extremely hard to come back from the injuries he’s had. And he was looking for a spot anywhere he could go.
Q: Has DeMarcus Van Dyke made an impression on you?
PALMER: He has. He’s looked really good. He’s made a lot of really good plays. Because he can turn and run and he can also jump on balls and break. He’s so athletic and so fast, once he does have to open up and turn and run he’s really looked good in camp and just got to keep grinding. We’re going to keep trying to pick on him and keep working against him. But he’s looked really good so far.
Q: Fair to say that you have the best chemistry with Denarius Moore and now that he’s out you’ve got to develop that with somebody else?
PALMER: No question. When he was healthy–we lost him for a couple games last year–but when he was healthy, he and I had really figured out a rhythm and timing, and figured each other out. We’ve got to get back–obviously want to be smart with him because hamstrings are something that can really linger and affect you for the long haul. Our training staff’s great. They’re not rushing anything. They’re not getting too excited to get him back out there, being very patient, and that’s what you have to do with a guy in his spot.
Q: You had the nice pass to Jacoby Ford. Where are you with Jacoby right now?
PALMER: Jacoby and I are really coming together. It’s hard when we have goal-line days and we’ve done some short-yardage the last couple practices. But when we were doing third downs and putting in the Red Zone a couple days, we were really clicking and firing on all cylinders. Just got to keep grinding, keep going… we’re not where we want to be yet but we’re coming along.
Q: How would you assess your play in camp this week?
A: “Personally, for me, I always want to complete every single ball I throw. In practice, it’s not unrealistic. I missed a ball over Brandon Myers’ head that I can think of right now. I always want to get better, but we are where we need to be at this point in camp. We’re only a week in. We got a game in another four or five days, but I feel really good in the offense, I feel confident and comfortable calling the plays, comfortable redirecting the protections, getting in and out of plays. I still got a lot of work to do. It’s still early in camp.”
Q: Do you grade yourself on a daily basis or overall?
A: “I look at it every day. If you make a mistake on one play, because we’re not just doing one install and then moving on. We’re installing a set of plays and working on it for a couple of days so that we get four, five, six reps of them. I like to make sure that I have a play down. You’ll make a mistake on a read, a ball placement on a certain route, and then if you have an opportunity to run it again later that day or the next day, you want to make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes and you improve from there. So, it’s a play-by-play, day-by-day thing for me.”