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Czarnecki: Get off Palmer's case

FoxSports' John Czarnecki reacts to the speculation that Carson Palmer isn't mentally ready.

He's taking the majority of the snaps now, but he says he's not ready to play this weekend. Marvin Lewis, Cincy's head coach, has said that Palmer must play a preseason game in order to start the regular-season opener at Kansas City.

This issue became a story when NBC's John Madden said that Palmer must play on Friday in order to go on Sept. 10. Palmer scratched his head when hearing that news, and Lewis said he "didn't handle NBC well" and will "learn from that."

Translation: Yes, Lewis said something to Madden, but he really didn't expect to hear it relayed on national television.

Now, the Lewis refrain is that the media will not pin him down anymore on Palmer, although he is sticking to his preseason-or-bust pronouncement. Meanwhile, everyone wonders if Palmer's problem is more mental than physical. And I say get off the kid's case.

There is no question that Palmer is ahead of schedule physically; he worked his butt off to even be in the position to play in September. He is the team's franchise quarterback based on his 32 touchdown passes and 3,836 passing yards last season. What is stunning to me is that Lewis is applying any pressure at all on his star quarterback.

Obviously, Lewis can see where Palmer is by watching him in practice. If he doesn't look better than Anthony Wright or Doug Johnson, Lewis can start one of them and simply wait until Palmer says he's ready to go. No controversy there.

It should be Palmer's decision on when he's ready. Then, when he says he's ready to play, Lewis can make the decision on whether he wants to use him. That's pretty simple. Coach has the final say.

Palmer should not be forced to do anything he doesn't want to do. I mean, don't the Bengals want him around for the next 10 seasons or so?

I couldn't have said it better myself. However, I don't believe Marvin Lewis is pressuring Palmer; rather he was caught off guard by the reaction to NBC's coverage. I'd bet that a majority of all the questions Lewis gets has some connection to Palmer -- rightly so. But it sounds like a miscommunication went on and now that was resolved. But that didn't end the speculation. A lot have said that Palmer is either "scared" or "afraid".

But most just think he needs to get smacked one time. To be able to get up, bounce on that knee, and gain the confidence that he'll be fine. I'm sure we'll see it against Green Bay -- the game the Super Bowl team became great.  

Boomer Esiason agrees.

Esiason came back for a Palmer update and smiled at the "wake" competitor NBC left in Cincinnati from Sunday's telecast, observing the "firestorm" Bettis ignited with his Bill Cowher comments. Not to mention the buttons head coach Marvin Lewis pressed on Madden 2006 when he reportedly told NBC analyst John Madden that he needed to see Palmer play in Buffalo to keep on sked for the opener.

In true competitive style, Esiason wouldn't give NBC the edge, observing that Lewis and Palmer have been saying the same things they said when he came to town the last time. When Palmer says he's ready ...

"Their story hasn't changed one bit," Esiason said. "Did some of the language, semantics of the discussion change? Sure, that's because we're right here. I'm telling you, when Carson is back on the field, everyone will forget this garbage and everyone will be happy."

I couldn't have said it better myself, Boomer.