Hobson's Choice: Remain calm on Palmer

Was Palmer's injury as extensive as first thought? What is his status? We have heard he'll be ready for Opening Day. And then we heard he won't. Could you give us a little insight? Thank you and WHO DEY!
**--Scott, Delphos, OH

SCOTT:** As the guy in the film classic "Animal House" said, "Remain calm." I wish I could provide some insight on that because it seems like all I've done lately is incite. No one, and I mean no one, not Dr. Paulos, not Marvin Lewis, not even George Clooney knows when he'll be back. But they think he will be back in 2006. I mean, he didn't go hunting with Dick Cheney, so he should be back this year relatively intact like any guy coming back from reconstructive knee surgery. Trent Green went to a Pro Bowl after his. Jamal Lewis had one of the best seasons ever by a running back after his.

The reason there have no been Palmer updates is because everyone scrambled into a bunker after the surgery when Paulos basically told the estimable Joe Kay of the Associated Press that it was a very severe injury. Paulos later backed off and said it was a typical ACL/MCL injury, so you've got me on the extent of the damage.

At that point, Lewis felt it best to implement a cooling-off period, give Carson a break from the media, and let him just rehab the thing in peace.

Of course, the silence has spawned more conspiracy theories than a noon picnic on the Grassy Knoll. No, they are not covering up Carson's retirement announcement. No, they are not trying to sign Drew Brees to replace him for the next decade. No, they don't have to cut him because part of his mega bonus kicks in Jan. 1, 2007.

From what I'm hearing, Palmer is doing well and there is real optimism that he'll be back for the Opener, but that's a bit quick for my taste. I don't buy it. I'm a first-month-with-a-backup-guy, but, again, I'm just guessing along with everyone else. My thinking is based on a Sept. 10 opener that is just eight months removed from surgery.

It's reasonable he could play. But from what they say, they won't get a good answer on when he can come back until June or July.

(And you've got to hope they're thinking more along the lines of the future rather than trying to limp him out there for the Opener, and I'm sure they are.)

Is it worse than thought? I guess there was a lot of damage, but any ACL/MCL injury is bad and athletes come back from them all the time. I know that at times Paulos would have made Dr. Kevorkian sound like a cheery mid-wife when talking about the injury, but he did say it wasn't career-ending. And Paulos has excellent credentials in this thing. He was on the ground floor of ACL surgeries 30 years ago and is a highly-regarded guy. So it's clear Carson is in good hands.

A birdie from the West Coast (not Palmer) said he should be back in Cincy either this week or next week to continue the rehab. At some point after that, Lewis will let him talk and we'll have some answers.

That's all I know.

Oh yeah. And he was walking around without crutches at Kevin Walter's wedding a few weeks ago.

That's all I know.

I'll make this prediction, though. He'll be named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in '06. And he may be the only guy who ever made the Pro Bowl the year before to win it.

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