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Weary Palmer heads home

Updated: 2:50 p.m.



A weary Carson Palmer shook hands with the media Monday and, of all people, said, "Sorry it's been such a bad year."

Palmer turned 28 just four days ago, but the Bengals franchise quarterback headed into a 7-9 offseason feeling like "I'm going on 34. At times I felt sick to my stomach and I didn't have the flu," he said.

As the Bengals cleaned out their lockers Monday following head coach Marvin Lewis' team meeting and one-on-one interviews, Palmer showed the strain of a career-high 20 interceptions and his first losing season as an NFL quarterback.

"This is my most disappointing year in sports from junior Pop Warner to T-Ball to now," Palmer said. "The losses. The way we lost. The fact we're going to be watching the playoffs and we don't have practice next week."

Palmer, planning to give wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh a lift to the airport so they could fly back home together to Los Angeles, hopes he returns in March to a different team.

"We need to approach this offseason in a completely new way," Palmer said. "We need to come back a rejuvenated team and a team on a mission."

Palmer and his teammates had no idea if Lewis is planning any changes to the coaching staff. After Sunday's 38-25 victory Sunday in Miami, Lewis talked about his team being stale but said he wasn't going to talk about possible coaching changes.

Asked if he thought the same coaching staff could turn it from being stale, Palmer said, "I don't think so," but he also said he doesn't know if Lewis will make those changes.

"I don't make those decisions," he said. "I play quarterback."

Although he's the highest-paid player on the team and a virtual limited partner of Bengals president Mike Brown with a $118 million contract, Palmer said he's not going to interject himself in team affairs.

"If I'm asked my opinion, I'll be more than happy to give it," Palmer said. "I haven't been. This isn't my team. I'm the quarterback. If I can help in any way, I'd love to. I think I can be a valuable help and if a situation comes up, I'll help out."

Lewis meets the media later Monday in an afternoon news conference, but he hasn't dropped any hints on the plans with his staff. Or with players, for that matter. He has said that he "generally" wants to clean house but has not outlined specifics.

"We need a lot of changes," said Palmer, who did respond to a question about discipline, a subject he has often discussed.

"When you look at the most successful teams in this league, they're very disciplined," Palmer said. "And we're obviously not one of the most successful teams. I don't think we're the most disciplined team and that's definitely an area we need to improve on."

Palmer up for FedEx Award

Carson Palmer is one of three finalists for FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week honors following his performance in Sunday's 38-25 win over the Miami Dolphins. Palmer completed 23 of 32 passes for 316 yards, three touchdowns and a season-high passer rating of 121.4.

In the process, Palmer surpassed his own single-season franchise passing mark as he finished with 4,131 yards passing on the season.

Palmer was named FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week twice last season and a league-record five times during the 2005 season.

Fans can cast their votes from 3 p.m. EST on Monday through 5 p.m. EST on Thursday to determine the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week. The winners will be announced Thursday afternoon on

In addition, NFL fans may cast their votes for the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week using Sprint or Nextel wireless service - an opportunity available only to Sprint customers. This fast, convenient voting method involves texting the word FEDEX to short code 7777. Sprint customers will then receive an interactive text message that links fans to the ballot with the six finalists each week. Data and text messaging rates may apply.

If Palmer wins this week's award, FedEx will donate $5000 to Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Click here to vote for Carson now!



YEAR LEFT: Houshmandzadeh leaves with a share of the NFL receiving title and a lot more chips whenever the Bengals decide to talk contract. It's believed they'll approach Houshmandzadeh about an extension before the '08 season, the last of his four-year deal that pays him a little less than $12 million.

When he signed that contract the day before free agency started in 2005, he said he thought it was under market but he felt loyalty to Lewis.

"Marvin could have cut me his first year," said Houshmandzadeh of the '03 season he only played two games because of a hamstring injury. "And I'd probably be sitting at home right now. But he gave me a chance."

Now after four seasons he's been one of the top receivers in the game, averaging 88 catches for 1,039 yards and eight touchdowns, he's looking at the big money.

"If it's fair, I'll sign it," Houshmandzadeh said. "If not, I won't. But I'm not going to be a problem about it. If they come to me, I'll listen. I'm not going to demand anything. I figure I'm in a pretty good situation."

Houshmandzadeh has made no bones about the fact that there is a host of receivers who haven't come close to those numbers that are making more than him.

"But it is what it is," he said. "I'm not going to make problems."



BRAT VIEW: Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski passed through the locker room Monday and while he couldn't offer anything definitive on his job status he sounded like a guy coming back to fix an offense that didn't run the ball or score consistently.

He did say he didn't think the overall offense had to be changed "drastically."

"I don't think it has to be drastic. There are some aspects that need to be changed drastically, but not the overall big picture," he said.

Bratkowski, who finished his seventh season on the job, said he'll do what he always does at the end of a season and break down every play.

"We'll see why things did and didn't work," he said. "We'll see if we're using the right technique or if we're running the right things against the right scheme.

"I told them this morning there are things we're going to have to approach differently. And there are things we did this year that we won't do next year. There are things we'll add. But we have to sit back and look at it first. It's too close to the season and you don't want to make decisions emotionally."

DRAFT ORDER: Preliminary reports are that the Bengals have the ninth pick in the 2008 draft, their first top 10 pick since they took Palmer No. 1 in 2003. Last year Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn went No. 9 to the Dolphins. The AFC office said it had nothing official early this afternoon. The Bengals are one of seven teams to finish 7-9, but their foes had the worst combined record at 118-138-0.

ROSTER MOVES: The Bengals on Monday signed four players from their practice squad to two-year deals on the offseason roster: Defensive end Titus Adams of Nebraska, center Kyle Cook of Michigan State, defensive back Nick Turnbull of Florida International, and tackle Dane Uperesa of Hawaii.

Cook and Uperesa, rookies in '07, spent the full season on the Bengals practice squad. Adams, classified a first-year NFL player, and Turnbull, a second-year player, both joined the practice squad Dec. 18.

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