Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Jackson

Raiders key matchup No. 3: Palmer vs. Jackson
November 23, 2012, 10:57 pm
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Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Bengals matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m. (CBS), at Paul Brown Stadium.Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer vs. Bengals assistant coach Hue JacksonTale of the tape
Palmer (3): 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Jackson: Bengals assistant special teamsassistant defensive backs coach, 12th NFL season, PacificWait a minute, shouldn't this matchup be all about Carson Palmer's return to Cincinnati, and his facing the Bengals' head coach in Marvin Lewis. After all, Lewis was a rookie NFL head coach in 2003 when his first-ever draft pick was used on Palmer."We started here as puppies," Lewis, the third-longest tenured NFL coach, said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters this week. "And he's done a lot for me. I am glad for him."So there. But Palmer's connection to Hue Jackson goes even deeper.Jackson, then an assistant coach at USC, sat in the teenage Palmer's Orange County living room on a recruiting visit, pitching the Trojans to Palmer when his heart was pining for Notre Dame. The rest, of course, is history. Palmer went to USC, won a Heisman Trophy, became the No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 NFL draft, was coached by Jackson later in Cincinnati and was the centerpiece of the "greatest trade in football" orchestrated by Jackson last October that landed the, ahem, retired Palmer in Oakland for the stretch run.No playoffs, an epic media conference meltdown by Jackson after the season finale and a new regime in Oakland later, and here we are."Honestly, it's really another football game," Jackson, who left USC for the NFL prior to Palmer's junior season at USC, told this week. "For me, it is. It has to be. You can't get caught up in the emotional part of it because that's not what this is about. This is about winning and losing."And if you believe that, you forget his final presser as Raiders coach, when he essentially told reporters he fibbed throughout the season, because now that the season was over, he could tell them how he really felt.This much is true, though, Jackson was a good offensive coordinator, one that had the Raiders offense purring, so long as running back Darren McFadden was healthy, which, of course, he is not at the moment. Again.But Jackson's knowledge of Palmer as a quarterback should be just as valuable a piece to play for the Bengals as would Palmer's experience playing in Cincinnati for eight years. Especially since Jackson is now a defensive coach, so to speak."Hue and I have talked a number of times since everything went down last year," Palmer said. "I'm looking forward to seeing him."He might have a chance to see even more of him soon because yes, Jackson's name has surfaced in regards to the opening at Cal in the awe of Jeff Tedford's dismissal."Whatever the next step is in my life is going to unfold," Jackson told "I try not to worry about any of that right now. What I'm trying to do is we're worried about the Oakland Raiders, and that's where I am right now. Try to take it just one step at a time. Whatever the future holds, it holds. I can't worry about it at this point."Again, is that how he really feels, or does it even matter come Sunday in Cincinnati?