Saturday, May 3, 2003

Palmer might leap past Smith on depth chart


Bengals notebook: New QB tastes life as a rookie

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Carson Palmer's first day in uniform as an NFL player included word from coach Marvin Lewis that the Bengals are considering him as their possible No. 2 quarterback.

PHOTO GALLERY

Photos of Friday's practice
"I think our reason for drafting Carson was we were comfortable with him being our second quarterback, so we felt that good about him," Lewis said when asked directly if Palmer was starter Jon Kitna's top backup.

The Bengals opened their second voluntary minicamp Friday at Paul Brown Stadium.

Kitna, Palmer and Akili Smith - the Bengals' first-round pick, No. 3 overall, in 1999 - shared snaps during 11-on-11 team drills.

Lewis is not saying right now who is No. 2 at quarterback and has not issued a depth chart.

Palmer admitted to being a little wide-eyed during his first NFL practice and impressed by the speed of the pro game.

"I threw a post route today that normally I would be able to get it in there in college. The window closed right away," Palmer said. "The (middle linebacker) got over there and got a piece of the ball."

Lewis liked what he saw from Palmer in Day 1.

"Very proficient passer, had a good command of the field, command of the game, great presence on the field," he said.

Carson Palmer admitted to being a little wide-eyed during his first NFL practice Friday, and impressed by the speed of the pro game.

Palmer got off to a positive start.

"Because I'm so young and naive, I think we're great," Palmer said. "I'm thinking we're awesome."

It was just Day 1 for Palmer in stripes, but the feeling was mutual.

"Very proficient passer, had a good command of the field, command of the game, great presence on the football field," coach Marvin Lewis said. "He's a very willing worker, and I think everything is going to be good."

Palmer, who signed a seven-year, $49 million contract April.24, is not above rookie treatment, though.

"I'm happy we have a rookie in my position group now, which is always nice, because they have to pay for everything, and he has a lot of money to pay for it," starting quarterback Jon Kitna said Friday. "He can turn off the lights in the meeting room and all that stuff."

Said Palmer: "I missed some balls I shouldn't have missed. When I got some reps and got into it, I kind of got a little more comfortable. "I was just anxious to play. It's been so long since I've played football. It's just great to be back out there again."

SWITCH: Mike Goff, the team's right guard for the past three seasons, played exclusively at center Friday. Matt O'Dwyer moved from left to right guard, where he started 18 games for the Jets in 1998. Second-round draft pick Eric Steinbach played left guard, his position for the past two seasons at Iowa.

"The way you have people flourish after you pick them is you put them in comfortable situations," Lewis said of Steinbach. "And you can't put a square peg in a round hole totally, and we've got to find these guys' niche and see what they can do to help us move forward."

CAUGHT HIS EYE: Lewis mentioned two rookies by name after Friday's practices.

"Scott Kooistra was an impressive guy today, in my opinion," watching just naked-eye," Lewis said of the seventh-round rookie offensive tackle. "Khalid Abdullah, we've got a kind of a diamond in the rough, but good things are going to happen with him."

Abdullah , a speedy linebacker from Division II Mars Hill College, was a fifth-round pick.

NEW HIRES: The Bengals announced the signings of 13 undrafted rookie free agents Friday then had to turn around and release safety Milt Bowen (Miami University) after he failed the physical.

MISSING: The only player absent Friday was backup running back Brandon Bennett, who was at a wedding.

ARREST: Police in Duarte, Calif., on Friday arrested reputed gang member Juan Serna, 25, on investigation for attempted murder in the Dennis Weathersby case.

Weathersby, the Bengals' fourth-round draft choice, is recovering from a gunshot wound in the back. Weathersby, said Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy David Cervantes, "was an innocent bystander."

NAME GAME: The Bengals' current 87-man roster contains six players named Johnson (Belton, Chad, Garry, Jeremi, Riall and Rudi) and four Smiths (Akili, Derek, Justin and Ron).

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E-mail mcurnutte@enquirer.com




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