Palmer had peaks, and valleys


Palmer had peaks, and valleys

OAKLAND -- Carson Palmer appeared to need some oil in his joints in the beginning.He found a groove in the middle.He looked out of sorts in the end.The new Raiders quarterback had many peaks -- Palmer threw three touchdown passes with a deft touch not seen in these parts in many years -- and just as many valleys -- he was also picked off three times, and could have been intercepted at least twice more.

So Palmer's self-evaluation after the Raiders were kicked in the teeth by the Denver Broncos, 38-24, on Sunday?"There's still some things I'm a little bit off on, Im a little bit rusty on," Palmer admitted. "Still some things I'm not just quite comfortable with. But that's what I expected. I mean, I didn't expect to come in this week and just go 100 percent, ready to rock n roll with everything."It's kind of par for the course with where I am in this offense and in this system. But at the end of the day you either win or you lose, and you play well enough to put your team in position to win or you don't, and I didn't."Palmer had a 79.7 passer rating after throwing for 332 yards in completing 19 of 35 passes.He became only the fourth quarterback in franchise history to throw at least three touchdowns in his first start with the Raiders, joining George Blanda, who threw four TDs in 1968 at Denver, Todd Marinovich, who had three in Los Angeles against Kansas City in 1991, and Jeff George, who did it in 1997 at Tennessee. Only Blanda won his game.Then, the valley. Palmer joined Daryle Lamonica (1967 and 1969), Ken Stabler (1975 and 1978), Dan Pastorini (1980), Marc Wilson (1981), Jay Schroeder (1988) and Kerry Collins (2004) as the only Raiders QBs with at least three interceptions in consecutive games."Carson knows how to throw the ball," said coach Hue Jackson. "But like I said, I'm going to be very hard on him because I know what's in there. I know what kind of player he is. What we have to do is make sure we don't give it to the other team."Palmer seemed oddly comfortable throwing the ball to Denarius Moore, targeting him 12 times but connecting only four times with the rookie.Jacoby Ford, meanwhile, pulled in five passes for 105 yards, including an acrobatic 18-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter that gave the Raiders a seemingly safe 24-14 lead."I think he did good," Ford said of Palmer. "He definitely takes chances and we love that in a quarterback. We'll get better from here. I know it."Perhaps Palmer's most impressive pass of the day, though, was the 40-yard rope he threw to fullback Marcel Reece down the middle of the field for a touchdown. Palmer threaded the needle and put the ball where only Reece, with D.J. Williams draped all over him, could get it."Carson saw my eyes, I saw his eyes and he put the ball up and I went and got it," Reece said."Carson threw a great ball and I went for it."But it was Palmer's second interception that turned momentum in favor of the Broncos.Leading 24-17 and facing a 3rd-and-11 at the Denver 43-yard line, Palmer spied Moore going across the middle, from right to left some 15 yards downfield. But Palmer's pass was high and Moore tipped it into the waiting arms of cornerback Chris Harris, who returned the interception to the Broncos' 40-yard line."I want (that pass) back," Palmer said. "That was a miscue. I was on the wrong page with the receiver. Just something that we need to keep repping, keep working, and get a feel for body language on that route, and timing of that route, because I was off on that."One play later, Willis McGahee burst up the middle for a game-tying 60-yard touchdown run.Two possessions later, and after a pair of three-and-outs by the Raiders, the rout was on when Eddie Royal went 85 yards for a score on a punt return.No one with a clear head will say the loss rests on Palmer's in-need-of-WD-40-shoulders. Not when he put up some solid personal numbers, interceptions aside. Just don't tell that to Palmer."I didn't play well enough to give our team a chance to win," Palmer said. "It doesn't matter, statistics don't matter. At the end of the day, nothing matters but whether we won or lost. It wasn't good enough."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”