Three and out: Palmer the starter in Oakland

Palmer “absolutely” the Week 1 starter: The Raiders have a new general manager and a new head coach. But their starting QB next season will be an old one. Coach Dennis Allen told NBC Sportstalk that Carson Palmer will get the call as Oakland’s Week 1 starter in 2012. Last season was a mixed bag for Palmer; the veteran scored double-digit fantasy points in six of his final eight games. The former USC standout threw 16 picks in 10 games this season — including seven in his final four starts. He’ll be working with a new offensive coordinator this season, and all indications point toward Greg Knapp taking another spin around the Black Hole. What would help Palmer and the Raiders offense even more would be a healthy set of playmaking wide receivers. Even still, the Heisman Trophy-winning QB won’t be any better than a No. 2 option in most leagues.

Browns interested in re-signing Hillis: The Browns are considering bringing RB Peyton Hillis back, in a complete about-face from reports during the season that pointed to Hillis leaving Cleveland after the season was over. It was a rough year for the fourth-year back — he played just 10 games due to a combination of injuries and illness. The fact that Cleveland is thinking about bringing him back could mean the Madden curse isn’t as powerful as we all believed … or the Browns are about to learn a very expensive lesson in the fantasy football dark arts. As for you, dear reader, we need Hillis to earn our trust back before we can consider him anything more than a flex RB. Cleveland needs serious upgrades to one of the league’s worst offenses and after Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya were just as effective as Hillis, this could easily turn into another RB-by-committee situation.

Gronkowski out of walking boot: The scene may have shifted to Indianapolis, but all eyes continue to linger on the ankle of Rob Gronkowski. Reporters should be able to get a better view of that ankle since the dynamic tight end says he’s ditched the walking boot as he prepares for Sunday’s Super Bowl. How well his high ankle sprain has healed and how effective he can be against the Giants defense remains to be seen. But as the most popular TE choice in the NFL Playoff Challenge, this latest step in Gronk’s recovery should be a ray of hope for many players.

— Marcas Grant

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