posted on May, 8 2004 @ 01:58 PM
The wait is over for Carson Palmer.
The No. 1 pick in last year's draft began his transition from backup quarterback to starter when the Cincinnati Bengals opened their rookie minicamp
"I still feel like a rookie," Palmer said. "Last year went by so fast."
Palmer could only watch as Jon Kitna took every snap for the Bengals last season.
Palmer said the game has "slowed down" since his first minicamp. He sees the field better and reacts quicker. It will take the new players a while to
get that feeling.
"I know what it's like to be in their shoes and be in here for the first time," Palmer said. "I definitely feel like I'm a lot further along than they
are, but I still consider myself a rookie just because I don't have any [regular season] snaps."
Coach Marvin Lewis called the first day "a good indoctrination" for Palmer and the newcomers. He expects Palmer to easily slide into the role of team
"Leadership comes with that position," Lewis said of his new, strong-armed quarterback. "But you can't go in and talk about it. You've got to
Lewis hoped to ease the transition for Palmer by announcing on March 1 that the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner would be his starter this fall, even though
Kitna had a career season and was the NFL comeback player of the year.
Kitna will be Palmer's backup now, and could take over if Palmer struggles. Although he was demoted, Kitna received a vote of confidence, of sorts, by
being offered a contract extension for an additional season to remain with the Bengals through 2005.
Palmer may be hard-pressed to match Kitna's 2003 numbers in his first season. Kitna had career highs in completions (324), passing yards (3,591),
touchdown passes (26) and completion percentage (62 percent).
He was the only NFL quarterback to play every offensive snap.
But from the moment they made Palmer the top overall pick in the 2003 draft and signed him to a contract with $14 million in bonuses, it was just a
matter of time before the Bengals would be Palmer's team.
Lewis said the time was right for the Bengals to make the switch.
"He's got the most skill and ability of anybody we've got in this building," Lewis said.
Palmer said he was ready, but he doesn't have to shoulder the responsibility alone.
"It's not like I'm the first-year guy coming in with a bunch of rookies around me," he said. "Whether it's your first year in the league or your 21st
year in the league, you've still got to step up and take command of the team."