Is Palmer even a spot-starter at this point?

There was this dopey newspaper columnist in Orange County with a bad toupee — Steve Buscemi, Stan Bichette or something — who always started his columns with the same refrain of, “to really appreciate (player or coach X) you had to watch him back in the day.” He could be writing about John Wooden, Gary Carter or Pat McInally, every column started the same way.

And this hackney style always was annoying, and seemed like a bad way to back into a column.

I bring this up because to really appreciate Carson Palmer, you had to watch him back in the day at Santa Margarita High School in Orange County.

Every year we have been waiting for the return of Palmer. Which has been similar to those waiting for this Michael Imperioli cop show to really hit with the networks. Because Palmer — much like Imperioli — is somebody that you cannot help rooting for. And besides, I watched him back in the day.

But will that faith ever be rewarded?

The Bengals have surrounded Palmer with many weapons, and not just the aging, Tweeting, attention-seeking kind, either. We are talking legitimate weapons such as TE Jermaine Gresham and WR Jordan Shipley (who is becoming somebody you might want to stash on your fantasy bench for later). And still, we are talking pedestrian numbers, with a complete whiff against the toothless Panthers.

So Palmer is going to get a two-game tryout to prove that he can once again be fantasy relevant. Or even a decent bye-week starter. The Bengals play the Browns and the Buccaneers in coming weeks. Joe Flacco smoked the Browns, and Chaz Batch crushed the Buccaneers in Week 3. If Palmer struggles during these two weeks, the time will come to write Palmer’s fantasy eulogy.

Adam Rank

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