Based on multiple reports, including strong hints dropped by offensive coordinator Al Saunders, the Raiders plan to put quarterback Carson Palmer straight onto the field Sunday, when Oakland hosts the Chiefs.
The fact that the alternative is Kyle Boller supports the decision. The fact that the Raiders hope to get 10 games plus a postseason out of Palmer undercuts it.
Throwing passes to T.J. Houshmandazadeh and doing footwork drills with Ken O’Brien gets a guy into shape. It doesn’t get him into football shape.
And it definitely doesn’t get him ready to implement Saunders’ offense (unless, of course, someone slipped Carson a copy of the playbook in anticipation of the eventual trade). Even if Palmer has been studying Saunders’ playbook, Palmer doesn’t know the offensive linemen or the running backs or the receivers or the tight ends who are executing it.
As a result, there’s a more pronounced risk of injury for Palmer. He’ll be more likely to take hits in the pocket. And if he tries to sprint away from trouble, he could pop an Achilles’ tendon.
Though plenty of players are thriving with limited preparation, including veteran quarterback Matthew Hasselbeck, guys like Hasselbeck at least had an opportunity to participate in weeks of practices and preseason games in order to get ready.
Palmer will have three practices.
There’s also a chance that the Raiders aren’t telling the truth about Palmer’s prospects for playing, hoping to force the Chiefs to prepare for Palmer, when in reality Boller will be behind center. Teams are required only to disclose injuries, not strategies, and it could be come Sunday that coach Hue Jackson will explain that he decided Carson wasn’t ready — just as Hue did after not giving Terrelle Pryor playing time in the preseason finale, even after Jackson had said he would.
Either way, the smart move is to give Palmer until after the Week Eight bye to get ready to play.