isn't mincing words when it comes to any potential "distractions"..."/> isn't mincing words when it comes to any potential "distractions"..."/>

Carson Palmer Turns Up the Heat, Part 2


Carson Palmer isn’t mincing words when it comes to any potential “distractions” in 2008:

"Geoff Hobson: Do you think you guys can survive whatever the circus brings Thursday if Chad does or doesn’t come?Carson Palmer: You know what? I have no idea what’s going to happen. What he’s not going to do is come in and break apart what we have going right now. That sure as hell is not going to happen. I don’t know how big of a circus, how little of a circus. I like where we’re at. Hopefully he comes in and fits in with what we’ve created here."

Heh. Chew on that, Ocho Cinco. And that wasn’t Carson’s only salvo aimed at Chad and the other absentees and grumblers, among whom are Deltha O’Neal, Levi Jones and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

"The guys that have been here have done a great job of worrying about each other and not worried about anything in the media or anything else. The locker room we have right now is phenomenal. Guys want to get better. Guys want to learn from other guys."

This has been a long time coming, folks — and Bengals fans couldn’t be happier. We’ve been waiting for this team to finally become Carson’s team since he took over quarterbacking duties in 2004. It looks like that year may have finally arrived.

Hobson makes a shrewd observation in the introduction to his interview with Palmer, noting that at 28, Palmer is now older than most players on the roster, and just six players have been on the team longer. “So when he talks,” Hobson writes, “people listen.”

I have no doubt that the draft and college free agency, which handed Palmer a group of young, eager targets like Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell, Mario Urrutia and Maurice Purify played a big role in generating Carson’s new feistiness. It certainly must be a breath of fresh air to have wideouts who listen to you, versus wideouts who scream at you, or just ones that want to be there working with you, versus ones busy polishing their talking head skills on NFL Network.

More subtly, as Hobson’s locker room stats suggest, Palmer is finally in a position to be a team elder. When he joined the team in 2003, he was the kid walking into Chad’s and T.J.’s and all the rest of the old “Bungles’ ” locker room. Now, that’s turning around: the remnants of those bad old teams are either gone, or faced with having to walk into Carson Palmer’s locker room.

Stripe Hype likes this new-and-improved Palmer. A lot.