The last time Carson Palmer was on an NFL field, he was finishing up one of the worst statistical seasons of his eight-year career for the Cincinnati Bengals. Even casual observers could see that Palmer struggled to get velocity on his throws, an issue that had persisted since he started experiencing elbow problems in 2008.
Palmer has insisted in the days following his trade to the Oakland Raiders that he's "fully recovered" from the injury. Palmer chose then not to have surgery, and after two years of ongoing rehabilitation, he says his throwing arm "feels as good as it ever has," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
If Palmer isn't convincing enough, though, there's an eyewitness.
"Last year, when me and Carson would throw, he was always accurate, but he just didn't have that zip on the ball," Houshmandzadeh said. "I didn't say anything, I was just like, OK, his elbow has never really allowed him to get that natural zip that he had.
"He wasn't going to complain, he just didn't say anything, he just couldn't really fit the ball in there like he wanted to, so he had to throw it a little sooner. But now, it's back like the Carson of old. And people are going to see that."
According to Houshmandzadeh, Palmer admitted he played through an injured elbow during the 2010 season, when he completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns but tied a career high with 20 interceptions. His lack of arm strength especially was evident on deep throws.
Palmer is aware of the questions about his arm and said there's only one way to answer them.
"I'm very confident in it," he told the Chronicle. "It's my job to answer that question. The only way I can do that is on the field throwing it."