Notes: Rust frustrates Palmer

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Posted: 11:40 p.m.



After he threw two interceptions in a two-minute drill Thursday, it took less than that for quarterback Carson Palmer to admit he's frustrated at the rust around the edges of his game and is hoping more snaps are coming as the knee gets stronger.

"Real rusty," Palmer said after the rare miscues. "I'm very hard on myself. I have high expectations for myself as far as accuracy, footwork and technique. I haven't been doing a good job in that. I just need to get more reps and more opportunities doing it."

The Bengals are trying to rest Palmer's knee as well as prepare a backup quarterback in case the knee isn't ready, which is why he's getting about 40 percent of the snaps. So there is no panic in Bengaldom yet.

"It's a normal thing," said quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese of the rehab road. "You get back to the trust factor, trust in your protection, trust that things are going to get picked up and blocked. Trust that everything is going to be fine.

"He knows about it. He's already on top of it every time I mention things to him in the meeting," Zampese said. "He brings the same things up. So that's good that we're aware of it, it's just a matter of continuing to do it so it happens when there's 11 vs. 11 and not just when it's us and the quarterbacks doing drills."

Palmer points to getting virtually no snaps in the spring and the fewer training camp snaps as reasons for the rust, "but the more I get, the more and more comfortable I feel and hopefully as camp progresses I'll get more snaps in team situations and 7-on-7 drills," he said.

It's a bit ironic that the two interceptions came on throws to wide receiver Chris Henry. The first one, a ball thrown right to cornerback Tory James, was called back because of a pass interference penalty on James. The second came on the goal line when free safety Madieu Williams ran in front of Henry across the middle.

It will be recalled that Palmer hooked up with Henry on the second play of the Wild Card game for the longest pass in Bengals postseason history, a lovely 66-yard-over-the-shoulder bomb that turned horrible when both suffered season-ending knee injuries. Unbelievably, Palmer came back first from reconstructive ACL surgery even though Henry didn't have a procedure for a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament.

"We're both still struggling. He's still not 100 percent, I'm still not 100 percent," Palmer said. "And getting our timing and rhythm back is going to take us some time, and we haven't been there yet. We've had a lot of miscues and been on different pages a couple of different times, but there's a reason we're in training camp; to get that timing and rhythm back and it will come eventually."

Palmer has hooked up with Chad Johnson on a few patented Pro Bowl bombs, but he says it seems like the other receivers are getting more plays called when he's in the huddle.

"It's been good for the other guys because during the season his number is always called it seems like," Palmer said of Johnson. "He gets a lot of catches, but it's been great for T.J. and good for Chris Henry because we got some work, and Tab and a number of other guys. I think Chad and I are starting to get our rhythm back and that will progress as camp moves on."

For his part, Johnson thinks the offense is right where it was this time last year because "we're doing the same stuff we did last year, it's the same offense and everybody is the same," he said.

In fact, he's surprised that Palmer looks so sharp given that he missed so much of the spring workouts, and he doesn't think the fewer snaps is going to hurt him.

"He can do that," Johnson said. "He's great."



KICKS FOR KIDS: Three of the top seven scorers in Bengals history were on site here Thursday. Nos. 1 and 2 (Jim Breech and Doug Pelfrey with 1,151 and 660, respectively) were leaning on the fence watching No. 7 go through the paces. Pro Bowler Shayne Graham, with 359, admits he looks at the record book.

"I won't lie to you. It's right there in the media guide," said Graham, who has broken the team season records for accuracy and points. "I'm not sure any other team has so many kickers who spend this much time together and have so much camaraderie."

Graham has inherited Pelfrey's Kick for Kids charity, but Pelfrey and Breech spend a lot of time helping him with it and they helped raised $200,000 last year. On Thursday they brought 35 Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky at-risk children to enjoy a day at camp.

As good as Breech and Pelfrey were at kicking a football, they were and still are at their best in the community. It's a legacy Graham is pursuing as avidly as the record book.

Back in the spring Graham, the Bengals nominee for NFL Man of the Year last season, was the face of the Bengals Taste of the NFL drive in which the club raised nearly double what their closest competitor in the league raised. Earlier this year he was named Honorary Chairman for the Cincinnati March of Dimes WalkAmerica campaign. He's also a board member for the Cincinnati Freestore/Foodbank, the charity for which he helped raise more than $100,000 with $300 per field goal.

As he sneaks a peak at the record book, the one mark that impresses him is simply Breech's 13 seasons in Cincinnati from 1980-92.

"He played so many years with one team. It's so rare to see that anymore," Graham said. "When you leave a team the only reason you're not there is because nobody wants you there anymore. That says a lot."

Count Graham, 28, as a guy that wants to stick around as long as Breech as he heads into the third season of his five-year deal.

"Too early," he said of an extension. "Even if it was the fifth year it'd be too early because there's still a season to play."

By the way, if Graham averages the 126 points he has averaged the past two seasons over the next three years, he'll pass Pelfrey into second place with 737 on the club's all-time scoring list.



Here is the scoring system for Friday's 6:30 p.m. offense-defense intrasquad scrimmage for the defense: Four points for an interception, a fumble recovery or safety. Three points for forcing a punt, a missed field goal, or a failed fourth-down conversion. One point for a sack. No points for forcing a field goal.

The offense gets a point for a first down, a 20-yard pass and a 10-yard run, as well as the normal scoring.

The only difference in Saturday's 1 p.m. Black-Orange Mock Game is a safety is worth the usual two points and forcing the offense to punt or turn it over on downs is worth two points while the defense receives no points for a sack.




Don't look for the players on the PUP list to play this weekend. While there has been a lot of hand wringing on the physical regimen of defensive tackle Sam Adams, strength coaches Chip Morton and Ray Oliver have an excellent track record of using a blend of diet and multiple daily workouts during training camp to get bigger players ready for the rigors of the season.

Adams is closer to playing this season than fullback Jeremi Johnson was two years ago when he arrived in camp. Not only did Johnson start the season, he has improved so much that he's being talked about as an emerging Pro Bowler after signing what has been called the richest deal for a fullback in the NFL back in April.

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