CINCINNATI -- Carson Palmer's new backup knows him better than anyone.
If the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback has to leave a game, younger brother Jordan will take his place. Jordan Palmer has moved up to No. 2 quarterback for the season opener Sunday at New England, the first time brothers have held the top two QB spots on an NFL team's depth chart.
"It is really cool, when you take a step back," Jordan Palmer said Wednesday. "Right now, there's not much time to sit around and think how cool this is because we have so much work ahead of us."
The Palmers are the only brothers to play quarterback together during the Super Bowl era. They are only the second set of quarterback brothers on the same team -- Ty and Koy Detmer were with the Eagles in 1997, although Koy missed the season with an injury.
Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy at USC and was the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, taking over Cincinnati's offense a year later. Jordan -- who is four years younger -- set passing records at UTEP, was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round in 2007, played in one preseason game and was waived.
He signed with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League and was packing for Phoenix when the Bengals called with an offer to be their No. 3 quarterback. His progress the last two seasons made them confident enough to release J.T. O'Sullivan and elevate him to No. 2 at the end of preseason.
Jordan Palmer didn't see it coming.
"It's definitely a boost of confidence to know there's an organization behind me, as opposed to just my wife and my mom," he said, smiling. "That was good. At the same time, I think I'm ready to make the step. I've been preparing like a starter the last two years. The things that Carson does to get ready for the games, I try to do myself."
His main responsibility will be helping his older brother get ready during the week, reminding him of changes in the game plan and helping him see things on the field.
"It is great having somebody that will keep things in check for you," Carson Palmer said Wednesday. "Jordan will tell me like it is. He doesn't sugarcoat things. He tells me when I am wrong and doesn't tell me when I am right. I think that is what is most important. He helps me out tremendously."
So far, Jordan Palmer's playing career has been limited to a dozen passes in 2008, when Carson missed most of the season with an elbow injury.
Their faces and voices are alike, sometimes leading fans to mistake them.
"When he was first here, it was funny because of how similar they are and how often people mix them up," offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said. "For Jordan to finally get a chance to show his maturity this year, it's good. We've seen it not just in the games, but in practice more so. You see him helping people out, doing more than just calling plays. That shows you the way he's progressed since he's been here."
Jordan Palmer said his relationship with Carson hasn't been an issue with teammates. The brothers keep all family talk out of the locker room.
"That stuff's away from the facility," he said. "When we come in here, it's business. We come in here, we're teammates, co-workers, colleagues. He's not any easier on me because he's my brother. He's not any harder on me because he's my brother."
The Bengals filled their No. 3 quarterback spot by claiming quarterback Dan LeFevour off waivers from Chicago. LeFevour was a sixth-round pick from Central Michigan, where he threw for more than 12,000 yards and ran for more than 2,500 during his career.
LeFevour's coach at Central Michigan was Butch Jones, who is in his first season at the University of Cincinnati.
"Coach Jones and I are very close," LeFevour said Wednesday. "I've already stopped by there once. It's good to be in town and know somebody."
LeFevour won't be ready to run the offense for some time. In Central Michigan's spread offense, he rarely took a snap under center and ran the ball frequently. He won't get to run nearly as much in the NFL, something he doesn't mind.
"When you see the speed on defense, I'm OK with that," he said.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press