Oakland Raiders: What Should Be Expected of Carson Palmer in 2012?

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Oakland Raiders: What Should Be Expected of Carson Palmer in 2012?
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The Oakland Raiders should not listen to any talk about letting Terrelle Pryor start over Carson Palmer.

There is absolutely no doubt that Pryor has a tremendous upside, but the Raiders have a proven quarterback coming into his second season in the silver and black.

Not only that, but they are paying him $43 million over four years.

Pryor is locked up until 2014, as well. So, if anything does go wrong with the former Bengal star, Pryor will be there. And he's only 22 years old, Panther QB Cam Newton is older than he is.

He has time—there should be no rush to get him on the field.

With that in mind, what should we expect from Carson Palmer?

Palmer was at the bottom half of the league's quarterbacks in 2011, but a closer look at his statistics gives Raider fans plenty of signs for optimism.

He averaged 275 yards per game, which was good for seventh best in the league to go along with the fourth best yards per attempt (8.39) in the NFL.

While he did throw a lot of interceptions, Oakland will expect better of him in 2012. His career TD:INT ratio is 1.44:1, which is high, but still respectable (as a means of comparison, Drew Brees career TD:INT ratio is 1.92:1).

And he played only 10 games in 2011 after nearly retiring. He needed time to get back to his Pro Bowl form and get acclimated to the football environment—which he got this offseason.

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The offensive weapons surrounding him have also increased and improved.

Darren McFadden is looking to return from injury and put up a Pro Bowl-caliber year. He will take some pressure off the passing game and provide Palmer an excellent option in the slot as well as out of the backfield.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, and Jacoby Ford make up the league's fastest receiving core. Combine that with Palmer's high yards per attempt average and the Raiders have serious home run power.

And don't sleep on Juron Criner, the receiver that Oakland drafted in 2012.

His 6'3" frame and 220 pounds are nearly identical to Cardinal wideout Larry Fitzgerald. Criner may have a while to go to get to that level but his red-zone presence will nicely complement the deep threats that Oakland already has.

Add all that up, and Carson Palmer has everything he needs to return to a top 10 quarterback in the league.

The question then becomes: is that enough for the Raiders to make the playoffs?

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