Showdown looks like Nodown

Posted: 9:35 p.m.

GEORGETOWN, Ky. - You'd think the guy who wouldn't be ready for Thursday night's showdown between two AFC quarterbacks looking to reclaim their Pro Bowl form would be New England's Tom Brady instead of the Bengals' Carson Palmer.

After all, Brady is just in his second game back from reconstructive knee surgery performed 11 months ago. When Palmer came back from his torn ACL in 2006, he didn't debut until the third preseason game and that was a little more than seven months past his surgery.

But it looks like Palmer's mildly sprained left ankle is going to shelve him. No one is saying it officially, especially Palmer, but an industry source outside the Bengals indicated Monday they are planning to go with J.T. O'Sullivan against the Patriots. And ESPN has reported Palmer won't play.

Which isn't all that surprising, given it is a preseason game and he had a walking boot on as late as the morning before going on another field to rehab while O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer took all the snaps in the afternoon workout. He wore regular athletic shoes while signing autographs after practice for 15 minutes, but also said he couldn't have played Monday or simulated dropping back.

What is semi-surprising is that Palmer has barely paid attention to Brady's recovery.

"I've been focusing on what we're doing down here," Palmer said. "I don't know him very well. I haven't followed it."

Palmer also paid little attention to the news this offseason when the NFL decided to clarify its rule on hits involving quarterbacks in the knee area.

Known as the "Brady Rule" because Palmer wasn't a past Super Bowl MVP when Steelers end Kimo von Oelhoffen appeared to lunge at his knee after getting blocked to the ground in an AFC playoff game, the NFL Competition Committee's clarification this past March prohibits a defender on the ground who hasn't been blocked or fouled directly into the quarterback from lunging or diving at the quarterback's lower legs.

Earlier this month when NFL officials came here to work the Bengals scrimmage and Mock Game, they said in a media briefing that it was also an illegal hit if a player was blocked into the quarterback. The defender is responsible for where he ends up, they said.

Neither the von Oelhoffen hit or the play on which Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard dove into Brady's knee after he had been blocked to the ground by running back Sammy Morris was flagged. Referee Don Carey, who led the Georgetown briefing, said both plays would now be illegal.

Palmer continues to have no bad blood against von Oelhoffen and shrugs off the clarification.

"It's part of the game. Quarterback. D-line. DB. No matter what, people get hurt. You can't always protect everybody," Palmer said. "Hopefully it saves a couple of guys' careers and some guys' seasons, but we'll see."

Asked if he thinks the play against him was preventable, he said, "No. And I don't know if Tom's was preventable either. Bad things happen in this game. Guys get hurt. It's part of the deal. It's not fun, but it's part of the game. It's always been like that."

He's never spoken to von Oelhoffen, but Palmer says he doesn't think the former Bengal went after him.

Palmer's current injury is much less serious and it's looking like he'll be ready for the traditional dress rehearsal in 10 days in the third preseason game and Paul Brown Stadium Aug. 27 opener against the Rams.

Palmer would only say its "day-to-day," and "if I can play, I'll play."

"It's not serious because I don't have to run around a lot," Palmer said. "It would be more serious if I had to play receiver or corner or something like that." As for his rehab, he offered "strengthening, icing, medicine, witchcraft. Whatever it takes."

In that '06 season, Palmer showed no signs of rustiness despite doing less in the spring and first part of training camp than he's done this year. In '06, the Bengals came out 3-0 and beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

"I'll be healthy obviously by then but I want to get ready as quickly as I can," Palmer said. "It's just hard to be in training camp but not practice. It's the best part of the day. The meetings are the worst, practices are the best."

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