The book may not be a sequel to “The Hunger Games” series or a new John Grisham thriller, but to Carson Palmer it’s a must-read.
It’s the new Raiders playbook, put together by new head coach Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, and Palmer gets his own copy Monday, the first day it’s available to players under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Palmer, who came over to the Raiders in a trade with Cincinnati during last season, had to absorb the team’s playbook under former coach Hue Jackson. Now, months later, he’ll have to learn whole new schemes and variables in a West Coast offense, something he’s never run before.
But, he’s eager to get started.
“I am fired up to get my new playbook,” Palmer told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur. “We have a lot of work to do. We have a new offense and a new defense. New terminology. But we’re very excited. Personnel-wise, we have as good an opportunity as anybody to win the whole thing.”
Palmer’s enthusiasm about the Raiders’ chances may not seem realistic at this point, after an offseason of change. Under a new GM, Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have been busy cutting salaries and dumping players. Gone are running back Michael Bush, tight end Kevin Boss, pass-rush specialist Kamerion Wimbley and both starting cornerbacks, Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt.
Palmer even agreed to renegotiate his contract, saving the Raiders about $9 million of cap space in early March. According to ESPN, Palmer, who was supposed to receive a $12.5 million salary in 2012, agreed to take a $11.68 million roster bonus and an $825,000 base salary instead.
Now, after saying goodbye to so many players after a disappointing 2011 season, the Raiders are starting to gear up for 2012. The draft is later this month, two more players were acquired in recent days – free-agent outside linebacker Philip Wheeler and running back Mike Goodson (in a trade with Carolina for offensive lineman Bruce Campbell) – and now the playbook is open to Palmer and his teammates.
It’s time to get down to work.
Palmer told Tafur he’s been watching a lot of film of the Houston Texans offense and has been talking with Texans' quarterbacks Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. Knapp has been the quarterbacks coach at Houston the past two seasons.
“I am excited to see how our personnel fits into this offense I have been watching,” Palmer told Tafur.
Palmer has been working out and throwing in the Los Angeles area this offseason. He told Tafur he’s been working hard on his footwork in anticipation of being in the more fluid West Coast system that uses a lot of moving pockets and play-action passes.
Though the Raiders are thought now to be the weakest team in the AFC West – behind the Broncos with Peyton Manning, the Chargers and Chiefs – Palmer says he likes the players on the Raiders roster and is excited about getting started.
With running back Darren McFadden anticipated to be back and fully healthy, and some play-making receivers in Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Palmer believes the Raiders will be able to move the ball.
“This is a different team now,” Palmer told the Chronicle. “Reggie and Dennis are making a lot of changes, and it’s exciting.”