Carson Palmer has been around the block. The Cincinnati Bengals quarterback is in the middle of his eighth season, so he’s seen the NFL before it started enacting rules to protect the quarterbacks. He’s now also going to get a view of a league that is getting ready to suspend players for vicious hits on defenseless receivers.
His message to those who want to complain about it? Sure, the players have been playing football for years, and some for decades, so it’s going to be hard to change the culture and the style of play. But then again, he says, there’s not really a choice. The league has mandated that the penalties are going to be harsher, so learn something new or pay the price, literally.
Carson Palmer joined 790 the Zone in Atlanta with Pollack and Bell to discuss what the Cincinnati Bengals did in their bye week, whether the NFL needs more changes when it comes to hitting, the rules that have helped protect quarterbacks, what a huddle involving Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco is like and whether the NFC North is the toughest division in football.
On what the Bengals focused on during their bye week:
“We had a great week of practice. We had a chance to really go back and look at where we were as a team and, offensively, kind of went back and looked at some of the issues we had and tried to find ways to iron them out and get better for the rest of the year.”
On whether anything more needs to change in the NFL regarding illegal hits:
“At the end of the day, it’s football, and it’s so hard to change. I heard somebody talking about widening the field because the game is so much faster now and more like the Canadian League, where it’s a little bit wider so there’s more space. But the main thing is just abiding by the rules. It’s easy to complain and be upset that you’ve taken the physical and aggressiveness out of the game. But at the end of the day, the commissioner has rule over the league and he’s going to do what he thinks is best and what’s safest. All you can do is try to adjust. … I think all you can do, as a player, is try to understand the rules and go out on the field and implement them or else you’re going to lose a lot of money.”
On what the league has done to protect quarterbacks:
“You don’t see as many quarterbacks with guys around their feet trying to roll them up and getting bent back in weird positions. Now, with what they’re doing for defenseless receivers, they’re just really trying to keep everybody safe, as safe as possible in a very violent sport and a violent game. It’s tough to do. It’s a tough balance to find that safety in a game where guys are running 4.3 and trying to absolutely hammer people every chance they get.”
On whether he’s got a huddle of guys asking for the ball considering that huddle contains Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens:
“Chad’s always been like that with me. He’s open on every single play. But it’s not a reality show at all. Those guys come to work day-in and day-out. They are loud and they like to talk and they have fun playing the game, but they’re two of the hardest-working receivers I think you’ll find in the league. They run every route full speed, they want to catch balls after practice, before practice, and they really challenge each other.”
On playing in a tough division:
“I think it’s probably the most difficult division to win in, from an offensive standpoint. You look at Pittsburgh, year-in and year-out, Pittsburgh is one, two or three in total defense. Baltimore is one or two in total defense every year. From an offensive standpoint, you’ve got to play against those two teams. And then you look at the Bengals, we were No. 4 in defense last year and I think we’re in the top-1o now, so from an offensive standpoint, you’ve got your hands full.”