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Crash course: Palmer cramming for his Raiders debut vs. Chiefs

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Staring into his locker in a rare moment of solitude on this hectic afternoon, Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer pulled down his massive playbook from a shelf and gazed for a moment at the cover.

He then flipped through hundreds of pages in a few seconds, as if browsing at a bookstore. If only this was going to be that easy.

"When you're in the position I'm in, there's nothing else to life," Palmer said, still at his locker a few minutes later. "You eat. And you do football. Whatever it is, lifting or conditioning or studying or watching film, you can't be doing enough.

"There's such a short amount of time."

The Raiders didn't invest two potential first-round picks in a player to keep him on the bench, which is why they'll do what they can to get him on the field against the Chiefs on Sunday. If his body responds appropriately, he'll get that nod.

Is anyone truly digesting the significance and pressure of this possibility? A quarterback who has spent the first third of the NFL season tossing to high school players is going to take over a 4-2 team after three practices.

"I haven't thrown to guys who can run like this in a long time," Palmer said.

This isn't your typical trade acquisition, where a player pops from one NFL locker room to another and finds his groove immediately. That's an impressive transition in itself. This is something much more difficult.

So forget about the fact that Palmer, as he was stepping to the line of scrimmage for his first snap of team drills, took a moment to shake hands with wide receiver Louis Murphy in a humorous "nice to meet you" moment. That happens plenty.

The same can be said about Palmer's glance at his massive playbook, which he'll need to begin abruptly studying if he'll have a chance on Sunday. Palmer is smart enough to get some of the playbook down and congenial enough to befriend teammates.

When it comes to his immediate transition, a third factor is far more pertinent to this immediate transition to a starting role: His physical conditioning. Not just Thursday morning after his first workout. Friday and Saturday, too.

"Sunday is a long ways away," Palmer said.

And under the current crash course he's about to endure over the next three days -- both in body and mind -- the prospect of successfully managing the offense is particularly daunting on the surface.

"I definitely was eased into it," Palmer said. "I didn't take all the reps. I threw some deep balls. Not a ton. We're going through a week's game plan, so there's a lot of short throws, there's screens, play actions, runs."

Although it seems there's every reason to believe Palmer will get the chance to play right away, coach Hue Jackson isn't saying he'll be the guy. Will he give him every chance to be? Yes. So you should expect him to be.

It's just not going to come from Jackson's mouth yet.

"I've got to see where his body is," Jackson said. "That takes time. I'm not in a rush. I don't have to rush that decision. We need to see where we are."

There's some good news for the Raiders in all of this. Regardless of Sunday's outcome, Palmer will have two full weeks to prepare for his next start after a bye week leads the team into a home game against Denver.

The timing, in that regard, couldn't be better. Even with a loss to the Chiefs, the Raiders would be 4-3, still with one more win than the Chiefs and second in the division behind the Chargers.

But that's not the ideal plan. Instead, Oakland is going to charge forward with the desire to get its new quarterback as prepared as possible to win as soon as possible.

Palmer has plenty of challenges ahead, facing a task that can't be compared to many similar instances in the past. So with the introductions almost complete, with the playbook in his hands, the Raiders' new quarterback will be charged with keeping this team on its current course.

"This is game week," Palmer said. "This is a big Wednesday. It's a huge game. A divison game. I'm not trying to be a distraction. I'm just trying to be helpful. There's already a lot going through guys' minds."

Including his.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington.

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