Carson Palmer Hopeful for a Return to Form

Donovan EstridgeContributor IMay 29, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 21:  Carson Palmer #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks to pass as he is pressured by the New York Giants defense on September 21, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

It seems like a lesson in ancient history one overcast November Sunday in 2005 when the Cincinnati Bengals stood toe-to-toe with the vaunted Indianapolis Colts and lost a 45-37 shootout.

Since that day, the Bengals offense has been more extinct than the Republican Party.

In 2008, during a dismal 4-11-1 season, former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was tasked with leading the Bengals offense while injured quarterback Carson Palmer spent his Sundays in sweatpants. The former Crimson standout spent most of the 2008 campaign trying to find his place on the field.

And in place of those shootout days way back in 2005, the Bengals would tally 12 points against instate rival Cleveland and that memorable three points put on the board against Baltimore.

Hopefully the 2009 season will be a return to the norm.

With Palmer out, the Bengal playbook was as exciting as spending a Saturday night watching C-Span re-runs. Sometimes due to a spotty offensive line or the weak arm of the former Ivy League standout, the Bengals relied heavily on safer plays.

But as Palmer anticipates his much-anticipated comeback, all indications are offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski will be more open to going down field. That is evident as the team is finishing the May OTAs even without the team's No. 1 receiver, Chad Ochocinco.

Right now, Palmer hopes to hook up deep again with wide receiver Chris Henry. Palmer and Henry hooked up for the longest pass in Paul Brown Stadium in the second offensive play from scrimmage in the 2005 Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both Palmer and Henry were hurt on the play.

But with Ochocinco out, Palmer is hoping to rekindle the magic.

"We've got Chris Henry...," Palmer told Yahoo sports. "He's a guy that's had a great offseason, really turned his life around. I'm excited to watch him play. He's a guy that seems like he catches a touchdown every other ball that's thrown to him, he's that explosive.

"He's kind of taken over for Chad's position and he's a guy that, like I said earlier, does not want to give up that spot right now."

With the new attitude in Cincinnati coupled with Palmer's oath of good health, the Bengals are hoping to return to the air. And if that happens, along with Bengals running back Cedric Benson returning to form and proving he can be an elite running back, the Bengals could raise a few eyebrows in 2009.