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Hobson's Choice: Bye Guy won't panic

Q: So far we have seen our backup QBs get it done, especially Doug Johnson, and I don't want Palmer to come in if there is no need for it. So my question to you is why not let Palmer have a seat until he is 100 percent?

Have Doug Johnson (not Anthony Wright) be our quarterback for the first quarter of the regular season and depending on his play through the whole season. I believe D. Johnson fits perfect with our team. That way Palmer can fully rest up and get healthier than he is now.

Don't get me wrong. Even if they put in Palmer to start the season I know he'll kick some butt, but I don't want to see Palmer go in there anything less than 100 percent healthy and wind up getting hurt again because he wasn't ready when we have a better than average quarterback (Doug Johnson) that I believe just might be able to hold us up there through the season.
**--Scott K., Cincinnati

SCOTT:** I'm still a Bye Guy. Play him after the bye. Will eight months after surgery be any different than nine? When you're talking about the future of what should be a Hall of Famer, why ask?

But, look. I haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn Express in at least three years so I'm not a doctor, or a Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Bowl quarterback.

From what we understand medically, the knee is strong enough and stable enough and it will be the same on Sept. 10 as it is Oct. 15.

And if Palmer thinks he's ready, you have to trust him. But if I'm Marvin Lewis or Mike Brown, I pull rank on him and tell him to meet the bus in Tampa Bay Oct. 15. It's a mental game now. Give him an extra month of work just to be safe. Set him up to succeed.

Hey, with that schedule they could go 1-3 WITH Palmer, never mind without him. And the way the AFC North is going to be this year, a 1-3 start won't eliminate them. It's just going to start heating up by then.

No, I don't think they're rushing him. Brown just gave him about $30 million in bonuses and Lewis has a new five-year deal, so the incentive is to do just the opposite.

I also don't sense panic in the locker room. Palmer may have been shaky early in practice, but his mates have been impressed by what he's done lately. With all due respect to the estimable Peter King of Sports Illustrated, I haven't heard any of his teammates wonder why he isn't playing. But then, maybe we're talking to different guys.

Plus, you're right, the backups have looked good, but I have to disagree with you on Wright. While Johnson has performed well, Wright has a big arm and a lot of starting experience and is a good match for a vertical passing game. And, yes, Wright has played against the Ones and Johnson is playing against NFL Europe guys. And that's not Johnson's fault because he's been very good and has shown he'll be competent if needed.

All that said, I've got a lot of faith in Palmer making the right call. Maybe more so than anybody in this organization because he's so level-headed and so cool and so reasonable. He's got the most to lose and that's who should be making the call.

Of course, shelving him until after the bye may be pointless and it could be just plain paranoia and over thinking.

Welcome to another day in Bengaldom.

Q: When is Sam Adams actually going to see the practice field and will he make any impact with such a late start?
**--Andy B., Dublin, Ohio

ANDY B:** It sounds like soon. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. The last time we checked, Sam's not competing in the decathlon so he should be ready.

Lewis sure made it sound on Sunday like Adams was about ready to appear. He became a Pro Bowler with his sheer size and strength, as well as knowledge of the game and approach to his craft, and he's not going to lose any of that overnight.

Is he heavier than he was during the glory days in Baltimore? Probably, but not all that much. Maybe 10-15 pounds? The kind of work he's getting from strength coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver is also probably going to make him about as well conditioned as he's ever been heading into a season.

Finally, they've got a guy in the middle who is going to draw double teams. Heck, he'll draw them on reputation alone early on. Everywhere he's been, they worry about Sam in the offseason. Then he shows up and his defenses are ranked top 5 against the run:

(When he started in Buffalo in 2003 and 2004, the Bills were No. 7 and No. 8 against the run, respectively. In 2002, the Raiders were No. 3, and in 2000 and 2001, the Ravens were first and fourth, respectively.)

Q: Kelley Washington: Keep him or let him go? I believe this is the last year on his contract, could mean big money to keep him after this year. He could easily be many teams' number two guy. What do you think the Bengals will do with him this year?
**--Mitch H., Stockton, CA

MITCH:** I'm not sure about No. 2, but definitely No. 3. I know he sometimes tries the souls of coaches and fans alike, but I love the guy. Washington always seems to catch a big first down, or find a way to score a touchdown.

He's not as fast and as versatile as they would like and he does nothing for them on special teams, but I don't know how you can get rid of him given Chris Henry's problems with the law and his knee.

Of course, I don't know how you can keep him, either, if you're keeping just six receivers. I mean, Chad, T.J., Henry, Antonio Chatman, Tab Perry, and Bennie Brazell are on the team, right? I guess if Brazell doesn't show up in the last two games and Henry ends up afoul of the NFL before Cutdown Day, yeah, maybe Washington sticks. But it doesn't look like any of Henry's court cases are going to be resolved in time to put him on the suspended list before Sept. 4.

Or maybe they just flat out keep seven receivers, but I don't know how that happens.

You have to feel if they cut Brazell (or Reggie McNeal) they aren't going to clear waivers in an effort to get them on the practice squad.

Of course, if they decide to cut Brazell, it would be because he didn't play well in the last two preseason games, so there wouldn't be any good tape of him and conceivably nobody would pick up.

But, that's doubtful. Everyone knows he can run like a weather pattern and speed always gets its due on the waiver wire.

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