The Bengals are sitting pretty atop the tough AFC North at 7-2. The have beat the Steelers and Ravens twice and will surely beat the down and out Charlie Browns twice. In a sport that loves comeback stories and routing for the underdog I believe its time we fully appreciate what Carson Palmer has overcome to be the Quarterback he is today.
Palmer played all four years at quarterback at then mediocre USC. He had three ho-hum years then in his senior season he broke out, threw 33 touchdowns and became the first USC quarterback to win the Heisman.
Following his Heisman season he was drafted by the Bengals. His reward was to sit the entire 2003 season on the bench looking over the shoulder of Bengals starting Quarterback and 2003 comeback player of the year award winner Jon Kitna. Not a peep out of him regarding his playing time or the losing atmosphere that the Bengals had become at the time (the previous 5 seasons the Bengals were 19-61).
Palmer finally got his shot in 2004 starting 13 games and leading the Bengals to a 8-8 record. He struggled at times throwing as many touchdowns as interceptions but he did keep his completion percentage above 60% and nearly threw for 3,000 yards.
In 2005 Palmer got his first full season as Bengals Quarterback and led the Bengals to their first winning season and playoff birth in 15 years. Palmer led the league in completion percentage and touchdowns in '05. On the very first play of the Bengals postseason Palmer threw a 66 yard touchdown pass while Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen landed on his left leg ending his season.
Palmer went under the knife in January 2006 he had torn his ACL and MCL ligaments and dislocated his kneecap. His doctor called the injury potentially career ending.
Palmer started every single game for the Bengals in 2006 and only sitting out one play. He threw for a then career high 4,035 yards with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The Bengals defense ultimately let him down ending the season out of the playoffs at 8-8.
2007 was very similar for Palmer he threw for a career high 4,131 yards but missing the playoffs again at 7-9.
In 2008 Palmer played through a broken nose, a partially torn ligament and tendon in his throwing elbow. Palmer only started four games and sat out the rest of the season again.
This season Palmer finally has a good team surrounding him. The Bengals have a solid defense and a good running game. Throughout his career Palmer has proven he can light up the score board but this season his team needs him to manage games and make big throws when they need him. Palmer's Quarterback rating is currently at a four year high.
Palmer has been faced with challenges and has succeeded. At the NFL level he has been faced with a bad team at times, two major injuries one of which many players never recover from let alone in seven months like Palmer did. If you are a Bengals fan I hope you appreciate the leader you have at the Quarterback position, you know his teammates do.
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