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Same as in the Cincy Enquirer:

Palmer getting eye of tiger under center in Cincy

By Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati Enquirer

CINCINNATI — With the exception of throwing an interception into the end zone at Cleveland, Carson Palmer looked a lot like Peyton Manning in the opener. The Bengals' third-year quarterback changed plays at the line and did so decisively. He had time to move up and down the line to make sure his teammates knew the audible.

Carson Palmer has won three of his last four starts with a QB rating exceeding 100 in each start.

By Scott Galvin, AP

"There were times he was doing it last year, but we'd be fighting the play clock all the way down to the end and maybe get a delay of game because he was late seeing it," Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said Wednesday.

With three victories in his last four starts — in which his passer rating has exceeded the lofty 100 mark — Palmer is on the fast track to becoming one of the league's elite quarterbacks. The average passer rating in the league in 2004 was 82.8.

Palmer's development has been rapid. The victory Sunday evened his record at 7-7, 6-3 in his last nine starts.

He is poised. He is a student of the game. He desires to be great. And, as backup quarterback and Palmer mentor Jon Kitna said, "In this league, there's no substitute for getting experience."

In those four games, Palmer has completed 77% of his passes and thrown almost twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, 11-6.

After years of searching fruitlessly for their franchise quarterback — the organization missed badly with former first-round draft picks David Klingler and Akili Smith— the Bengals have found him. Palmer is more talented.

And he is better coached.

"Carson is our offense," coach Marvin Lewis said Wednesday. "When our (offensive coaches) get together Monday evening to begin to put together the plan, we do things that we feel Carson is going to be extremely comfortable with."

Third-year left guard Eric Steinbach was drafted one round after Palmer and is one of his closest friends on the team.

Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, Steinbach said, "breaks everything down so finely, and to have a teacher like that, it's going to mold Carson. He doesn't just think of one option on the play; he thinks of three or four options."

Palmer is surrounded by better players than either Klingler (drafted in 1992) or Smith (1999). The front office re-signed three offensive starters during the offseason — tailback Rudi Johnson, wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and center Rich Braham— who helped the team score 372 points last season, the most since the 1989 team scored 360.

"The quarterback is only going to be as good as the people who are surrounding him — linemen, receivers, running backs," said two-time Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson. "Of course, (Palmer) has the physical tools and works hard."

Tenth-year right guard Willie Anderson has played for several Bengals quarterbacks —Jeff Blake, Neil O'Donnell, Boomer Esiason, Smith, Kitna and Gus Frerotte. Anderson keeps an eye on Palmer for Zampese.

"I just walked into his office and said, 'Your boy was real good in the huddle,' " Anderson said. "He kept everybody calm. I didn't sense any (anxiety) in his eyes or in his voice. We kind of fed off that."

Kitna takes comfort from Palmer's performanceas team leader. He has heard Palmer challenge receivers to make sure they're in the right spot on pass routes.

Not long ago, Palmer walked through the locker room with a plate of food and noticed a bare-chested teammate about to be interviewed by a television station.

Said Palmer without breaking stride, "We wear shirts around here when we do interviews."

Palmer is not satisfied with his current hot streak. Neither is Bratkowski. Asked how Palmer could improve on his 75-percent-plus completion rate in the last four games, Bratkowski said, "Complete 80-85. Don't set limits for yourself. The ones we really want to eliminate are the ones he completes to the other team. Then show the consistency to stay at a high level."

The Pro Bowl could be in Palmer's immediate future.

"We have to win football games," Lewis said when asked how Palmer can get to the league all-star game. "I don't think Carson has to do anything different. The rest of us have to keep playing and coaching better. He's so, so talented. As I keep saying from the day he walked in here, the guy, no matter what he touches, he can turn it to gold."

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Great article, thanks guys. A few bits that made me smile:

Palmer's development has been rapid.

A lot of people said he'd be slow to adjust to this offense and we'd have a few years of growing pains. Anyone want to question Marvin sitting him his rookie year now?

In those four games, Palmer has completed 77% of his passes and thrown almost twice as many touchdowns as interceptions, 11-6.

These numbers, as they are here, are BETTER than Peyton Manning. Lets hope the interceptions can decrease, and he can play this way consistently.

Said Palmer without breaking stride, "We wear shirts around here when we do interviews."

Sometimes being a prick is a the best kind of leadership! B)

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