KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Last year, Kansas City showed a knack for disrupting opponents’ emergency quarterbacks. The Chiefs hope they do it again Sunday against Oakland amid speculation the Raiders will start the newly acquired Carson Palmer.
Whether it’s Palmer or Kyle Boller starting in place of the injured Jason Campbell, the Chiefs are hopeful of capitalizing on an unsettled Raiders quarterback situation. Palmer hasn’t played since he guided the Cincinnati offense last season.
“It sounds like Carson has been working extremely hard to be ready if something came up,” Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. “This isn’t a one- to two-year guy you’re talking about. This is a guy who has a bunch of years under his belt.”
When the news of Palmer’s trade from the Bengals to Oakland came down on Tuesday, the Chiefs quickly went to the videotape. They last faced Palmer on Dec. 27, 2009, when they limited him to 139 yards passing. However, his 6-yard touchdown pass to Chad Ochocinco with 2:03 remaining snapped a 10-10 tie and lifted the Bengals to a 17-10 victory.
This time, Palmer would be working with new teammates after missing training camp and the opening six weeks of the 2011 season.
“The thing about this league is that you think you have an advantage sometimes — less preparation from another team or another guy. But everybody is a professional. He’s going to get ready to play,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “He’s a smart guy and this is a copycat league. I’m sure he’ll fit right in.”
Oakland coach Hue Jackson maintained that he wouldn’t decide on his starting quarterback until thoroughly evaluating Palmer in practice this week.
The Chiefs faced two backup quarterbacks in their opening six games last year and were able to use key interception returns for touchdowns against Cleveland’s Seneca Wallace and Jacksonville’s Todd Bouman as a springboard to victories over the Browns and Jaguars. Brandon Flowers victimized Wallace with a 33-yard TD return and Johnson had a 15-yard scoring return against Bouman.
Asked specifically if the Chiefs would be inclined to come with additional pressure packages against a rusty quarterback, Haley replied: “I don’t think I’d give much of that out, as much as I could help it.”
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was a college roommate of Palmer’s at Southern California. When he heard that Palmer had been traded to the Raiders, Cassel called Palmer and left a congratulatory message.
“Carson is a great guy and a great friend of mine,” Cassel said. “I’ll be a fan of his every day but two when we play them.”
Cassell said he has never faced the type of situation Palmer may find himself in Sunday — starting for a new team having had just a couple of days to get ready. “I’m sure if anybody can do it, Carson can,” Cassel said.
Whether his team faces Palmer or Boller, Haley’s overriding message is that the Chiefs can’t be consumed by Oakland’s change at quarterback.
“First and foremost, we have to stop one of the best running attacks in the league, one of the best backs (Darren McFadden) in the league,” Haley said. “If we don’t do that, it will be a long day for us. It won’t matter really who’s playing quarterback. We’ve got to stay focused on the specific strengths of their team.”
Johnson agrees that all the Palmer talk will merely become a subplot if the Chiefs’ defense fails to take care of its primary goal of taking away the run.
“Carson Palmer is a guy who can beat you with his arm. He’s a guy who’s very seasoned at the quarterback position, but they run the ball,” Johnson said. “That’s their bread and butter.”