**After completing his first six weeks of on-field work as the Bengals' No. 1 quarterback, Carson Palmer won't take the field again with his teammates until he leads them into into the first workout of training camp July 31 at Georgetown College in Kentucky. He sat down to talk with Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson before heading back to California for a small break.
GH: The schedule puts you guys up against the NFL's top four defenses from last season (Dallas, Buffalo, Baltimore, Denver) and eight of the top 12 (New England, Pittsburgh, Miami, Tennessee). That's quite a formidable task for a rookie quarterback. By the way, should you be referred to as a rookie quarterback even though this is your second season?**
CP: Yes. That's what a rookie is. A guy who hasn't played. That's an interesting stat. I didn't realize that. That's even more reason to be busting our butt. That's why Marvin is getting on us on every snap, every rep, every meeting. We've got to be that much better this year, because look at the teams we're playing.
GH: Can a rookie quarterback take a team to the playoffs?
CP: I think so. I don't see why not.
GH: Is there anybody you can look to when it comes to that?
CP: I don't know if (New England's Tom) Brady was considered a rookie quarterback, but he did it his second season. (Note: Brady played in one game and threw three passes as a rookie before leading the Pats to the Super Bowl championship in his second season.)
GH: You have mentioned the expectations are higher around here. Compared to last year at this time, how is the atmosphere different?
CP: There is definitely more intensity. Especially from Marvin. He's on us about everything. This year, our goal is to be Super Bowl champs. Last year, it was tough to shoot that high when you're coming off a 2-14 season and you've got a new coach coming in. But this year, we know what our goal is and when you have a goal that high, you can't get away doing things halfway, or hold up half the time. You have to come out and do it right and that's why the intensity level has picked up.
GH: You don't look to be the kind of guy that is going to call guys out publicly.
CP: I'm not calling anybody out. You can't have that.
GH: Even if they deserved it, you wouldn't call them out?
CP: That's a tough question. It depends on what you're talking about. What the deal is. But things need to stay within this team. Once you start pointing fingers and calling names out, all you're doing is creating a mess. You can't get on each other, you can't point fingers. It's a team. There's a reason it's called that. Not one guy is more important than any of us.
Do you yell at guys in practice if they make a mistake?
CP: You've got to get on guys every once in awhile. If it happens that a guy has brain cramp and he runs a wrong route, it's a sack and fumble. If a guy doesn't pick up a blitz and you get blown up. . .there are critical situations you can't let something slip.
GH: Have you done it yet?
CP: I've got on a couple of guys. You don't get mad at it. You just accept it for what is. If you mess up, it's your fault you take the heat and the blame for it.
GH: You look to have an easy rapport with the guys. You're always talking to the guys in the lockers next to you, cornerback Reggie Myles and tight end Reggie Kelly. You had a long conversation walking off the practice field with cornerback Deltha O'Neal the other day. Do you feel you have to do that kind of stuff in your position?
CP: I don't feel I have to do it, but I do it because I like the guys in here. I want to talk to them. It's not like I feel like its part of my job. I want to talk to Reggie Myles about his fiancée. I want to talk to Reggie Kelly about his new baby. I want to know, not because I need to do it.
GH: Although you say you're a rookie as far as games go, you also say this is your second time around for the practices and the meetings. What are some of the things you were able to adapt to as a new starter?
CP: I feel real comfortable in everything. The only thing that is different is the two-minute drill, just because I'm so used to in college the clock stopping and having time to huddle up and having time to get plays off. Now the clock always moves.
GH: Do you feel like you got over any obstacles the past six weeks?
I'm just real glad to be getting reps. Getting constant reps. It's been so long. Especially getting most of the reps in two minute. The big thing is to get looks and have a chance to see what it looks like first, put something down on paper, and have a chance to see what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. That's all I really want to accomplish now. When I go back to Los Angeles (for a few weeks before training camp), I'm going to be watching tape.
GH: How much tape are you going to be watching?
CP: I'm going to look at all the camps and coaching sessions, and take some Dallas film and the Philly stuff. They do a lot of elaborate blitzes and pretty exotic stuff on defense.
GH: The word is you've got all the physical talent in the world, but what is going to decide your fate is how quickly you can read and react to different blitzes.
CP: That is part of the game, but teams blitz maybe just 10-15 percent of the time. It's not that big of a part. There are some teams like Pittsburgh that blitz a lot. Dallas and Philly. They try to make you beat them.
GH: Are more people recognizing you when you go out?
CP: Not really. Cincinnati is a really low key place. People don't get in your business.
GH: In your first press conference here last year, before you even spent any time at all here, you said this was a good town for you because of that. After 14 months, what do you think?
CP: I love it here. I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be in a better situation football wise. My wife likes it here. I enjoy it here.
GH: What do you do away from the stadium?
CP: I try to play a little golf. I try to play as much golf as possible, or just hang out at home. If my wife's working, I just hang with the dog.
GH: Name of the dog?
GH: After who?
CP: Homer Simpson.
GH: What else do you watch on TV?
CP: I like the reality shows. My wife makes me watch "The Bachelor," and "The Bachelorette," and all that stuff.
GH: Do you sometimes wonder if you were still single and you could be like Giants quarterback Jessie Palmer on "The Bachelor"?
CP: That's the last thing in the world I would want to do. I don't know why that guy wants to do that.
GH: I guess that's not your personality.
CP: That guy is Hollywood.
GH: If he's Hollywood, what are you?
GH: Where do you guys go out to eat?
CP: Chipotle. But there's not a lot of Mexican food out here compared to California. Cheesecake is good. Some fast food. Panera. I don't like to be somewhere where everybody is looking at you and pointing at you. J Alexander's is a good place.
GH: This is the fastest Bengals tickets have been selling since maybe forever.
CP: It's awesome to see the way the city has really embraced this team and embraced Marvin. It's exciting to be a part of it. Cincinnati is known for how they've supported these guys for years. You think nobody would be in the stadium when you're consistently 4-12 or whatever it was. We sold out the first game last year off a 2-14 season. There's a ton of support in this city. All the guys in this room know that. We know what the expectations are now. The city and the people around expect us to be here, and we need to work harder.
GH: When the Bengals drafted you, Marvin said you two were joined at the hip. He has pretty much staked his regime on you. How is your relationship?
CP: I compare him a lot to my college coach, Pete Carroll. They're a lot alike. They're phenomenal coaches, but that doesn't need to be said. They're very level headed. They have no egos. (It's rare) especially in the NFL. Kit has told me stories about guys he's worked with and they just have these huge egos. You can't talk to them in the locker room , you can't bring up a subject other than football.
Marvin comes in here and talks smack. He goofs around with guys and just has no ego at all, like he's not a head coach. But when you're on the field, he cusses you out and yells at you to try and make you better and motivate you. I've played for a guy like him before and I can play for an offensive-minded guy or a defensive-minded guy. As long as everybody in the locker room respects him and that's one of the biggest things Marvin has is respect.