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Palmer's first week with Raiders could be sign of wild ride ahead

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Following Kyle Boller's second interception in the Raiders' 28-0 loss to Kansas City on Sunday, it was backup quarterback Carson Palmer, wearing a baseball hat and the knowledge that he wasn't supposed to play, who approached the receiver group on the bench. Palmer spent a minute or so picking their brains while Boller stood in another area of the sideline, listening to boos and trying to regroup at what likely was his last starting opportunity ever.

That snapshot encompassed why the Raiders gave up a fortune to bring Palmer to their team (at least one first-round pick and maybe another). Palmer knows what it takes to play the position.

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When Palmer got on the field, it didn't look like it, with three interceptions - one returned for a touchdown. He gets a pass for that, though. He had four days to get ready after nine months on the couch and not throwing in pads since Jan. 2.

Even so, coach Hue Jackson had a little fun stoking a ruse that Palmer could start to confuse the Chiefs. That worked well, huh?

"It's been wild, absolutely crazy," Palmer said about a week in which started with him retired and ended with him throwing 21 passes, completing eight, against a Chiefs team now in the thick of the AFC West hunt.

If there was any doubt, Palmer is the Raiders' starter from here on out.

"That's why we brought him here," Jackson said.

Oakland has a bye before playing host to the Denver Tebows. Palmer will work with the team's receivers, including tight ends and running backs during the down time, so what happened Sunday doesn't happen again. If it does, oh my.

The new collective bargaining agreement requires that players be given four consecutive days off during the bye so Palmer will have to convince some of his new teammates to give up some of their free time to help him. If those players are truly about the cause of winning, they'll train with Palmer for the team's best interests.

Palmer said two weeks is enough time to learn what he needs to about the playbook to succeed over the final nine games -- a schedule that looks a tad less daunting than the first seven games that left Oakland at 4-3.

It better also be enough time for running back Darren McFadden to heal from a foot injury because that's what the Raiders really are about. After he went down in the first quarter against Kansas City, defending Oakland was simplified.

If McFadden's on the field, the quarterback's job is easier, Jackson can call the game differently and Palmer will have a running back that can make plays when just about everything else breaks down. That said, you best believe opposing teams would rather have the ball in Palmer's hands than McFadden's.

"The bye couldn't come at a better time," said Palmer, who technically has had a longer bye than any quarterback currently employed.

What should become evident quickly, as it did on the sideline when Palmer surveyed his receivers at the outset of Sunday's meltdown, is a level of professionalism and experience at the position. Jason Campbell was a pro that players responded to and respected. They'll do the same with Palmer. They better.

The Raiders didn't seem ready to play against the Chiefs and they got waxed by a team that's feeling better about itself. So does Denver. The Chargers are holding with greased hands the lead in the AFC West, which is suddenly the most compelling in the NFL. There have been quarterback changes in Oakland and Denver that have heightened intrigue and the ascension of the Chiefs, whose coach Todd Haley was rumored to have been close to being fired a few weeks ago.

Palmer's ugly performance Sunday stung him personally as much as it did professionally. There are detractors who think he's already on the down slope of his career. He's out to prove that wrong. He's also on a team other than the Bengals and he's out to show it was his circumstance, not him, as to why he hasn't fulfilled so many expectations.

Talk of legacy and history is more common with the storied Raiders this season than it has been in the recent past. A lot of careers have been resurrected -- and buried -- in Oakland. Palmer's "wild" baptism this week could pale in comparison to how things unfold from here.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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