Updated: 8-12-06, 1:15 a.m.
PalmerGEORGETOWN, Ky. - Carson Palmer leaves training camp feeling better mentally about his reconstructed left knee than when he arrived two weeks ago, but he also said Friday, "I'm still nowhere near where I need to be."
Palmer says he's "kind of got the knee thing out of my head," but starting the regular-season opener Sept. 10 in Kansas City is uncertain even though it remains a goal he expects to reach but can't say for sure.
Still, the best thing he did in training camp - besides sitting out one of the two-a-day practices each double session - seems to be gaining a mental edge.
"I feel like I made a lot of progress. I fee like I'm playing football and not thinking of anything other than what's going on in the coverage," Palmer said. "I'm not worried about what's going on up in front of me. I'm not worried about stepping on anybody. I kind of got the knee thing out of my head. I feel a lot better, a lot more comfortable."
Another good sign: Even though it rained early in practice, he looked pretty nimble on a wet field Friday, and Palmer got a lot of reps for a guy not playing Sunday. Head coach Marvin Lewis said he took a third of Friday's snaps with Sunday starter Anthony Wright splitting the rest with Doug Johnson and Erik Meyer.
"(It's about) getting as many snaps as possible and still getting everybody work, too," Palmer said. "Hopefully I'll get my shot in one of those up and coming preseason games."
It's believed Palmer has to play by the third preseason game or else the plan to start Opening Day gets re-examined. But he says he's still on for Sept. 10.
"I felt like I was going to play Sept. 10 on Jan. 10," said Palmer of the date of his ACL surgery. "So I'm going to keep that goal in mind. I expect to play (but), it's still up in the air."
AndersonTHE FRANCHISE: Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson hosted his teammates with a Fatburger cookout Friday night as the franchise he owns in Atlanta trucked their goods north.
Fatburger is known as America's last great hamburger stand, and people want to know if this season will be Anderson's last stand in Cincinnati.
Terry Bolar, Anderson's agent, said he chatted with Bengals director of business development Troy Blackburn here Friday and said he was encouraged by the conversation that was very general in nature.
"It was positive. I was encouraged," said Bolar of talks for a possible contract extension. "There is going to be some open dialogue and we're hoping we can talk about something before the season gets started."
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was in a great deal of pain after bruising his elbow in Friday's practice, and didn't return. It doesn't look serious, but it wasn't known if he could play Sunday night.
Wide receiver Chris Henry (hamstring) didn't practice after working the past few days. Wide receiver Bennie Brazell (hamstring) didn't work, but right guard Bobbie Williams (leg) did some.
Tight ends coach Jon Hayes, celebrating his 44th birthday Friday, got the water bucket treatment at the end of practice. But it wasn't easy. Two of his players, Reggie Kelly and Ronnie Ghent, had to hold down the 12-year NFL tight end and wait for linebackers coach Ricky Hunley to bring the bucket.