Carson Palmer Ready and Willing to Make Bengals Better

Wayne BakerContributor IJune 5, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - DECEMBER 07:  Injured quarterback Carson Palmer of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on from the sideline against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 7, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Carson Palmer sees something in this year's edition of the Cincinnati Bengals that many fans have not yet. And what he is seeing involves something rarely noticed around the team—a commitment to excellence.

Of course it sounds cornier than a nursery rhyme, but if one can be patient enough to weigh the facts, it becomes clear that this year's Bengals team wants to put in the effort to make a run to the playoffs.

Let's start with Palmer. His leadership so far in the preseason has been Bradyesque.  Palmer has not been afraid to challenge, chastise, or critique any or everything about the team.

He did not mince words when he told a reporter for the NFL network that troubled wide receiver and former All-Pro, Chad Ochocinco, had likely played his last meaningful game as a Bengal last year.

"He wasn't really here last year and I do not expect him to be here this year," Palmer explained in his interview.

Shortly after the QB's comments, Ochocinco, who must have finely tuned it, had his strength coach come out publicly to make sure everyone knew how hard the wide receiver has been working on getting into tip-top shape so he will return to the form that made him an all-pro.

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Could it have been just a well designed public relations ploy? Of course, but the bottom line is that Palmer had the desire to call out a player who did not perform well last year and has not shown himself to his teammates at non-mandatory workouts so far.

Palmer also has made it a point to go out of his way and out on a line to praise the work ethic of troubled receiver Chris Henry.

Henry, who was brought back in the fold last year after being exiled for criminal/legal woes, has a new attitude and a desire to win. It has not been lost on Palmer.

"He has worked his butt off so far and has gotten himself into fantastic shape," Palmer said in an interview with a local television station, about Henry. "Chris is a new person and is putting in the time this year to be a great player."

Every year it seems, we hear about the need for teams to have a leader. Success and championships cannot be attained without a player grabbing the reigns and whipping his team into shape.

So far, Palmer is giving Bengals fans some hope. It looks like the leadership for the team has been assumed by No. 7.  And maybe that will bring some success with it.

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