Carson Palmer started the season in limbo, not knowing when or if he would play again. Now the veteran quarterback finds himself in the midst of a playoff push.
Palmer has had little time to adjust to his new surroundings since joining the Oakland Raiders in Week 7. But after leading his team to the top of the AFC West with a 3-1 record as a starter, Palmer has quickly rediscovered his joy for playing football.
"It's been a whirlwind, and it's been crazy," Palmer told Steve Mariucci in an interview that aired Sunday morning on NFL Network. "But it's so fun to be a part of this team. I'm loving being here, loving playing ball."
Palmer didn't have much to appreciate when the season began. Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown refused to grant Palmer's demand for a trade, so the quarterback sat out and contemplated retirement. But his absence from action was brief, as he was traded Oct. 18 to the Raiders, who were in need of a replacement for the injured Jason Campbell.
Though he said he wished he could have done more for the Bengals, Palmer insisted he didn't quit on his former team.
"I went in right after (last) season and just said that it's time," Palmer said. "It was time for me to move on. It was time for them to move on. And they've done a great job. Their quarterback (Andy Dalton) is really, really good. They've got a really good, young group of receivers. And obviously, defensively, they're playing as good as anybody.
"But it was time. And it's worked out well for them, and it's worked out well for us here."
Palmer received a harsh welcome back from the Kansas City Chiefs in his first game as a Raider. Though he hadn't spent a full week with the team, he was forced into action after the Raiders fell behind on the heels of Kyle Boller's early struggles. Palmer threw three interceptions in the second half of the shutout, raising questions of if he could pilot the Raiders to the postseason.
Though Palmer and the Raiders bounced back after their bye week, the veteran quarterback continued to push himself to get up to speed with the rest of the team. But his efforts took a toll.
"I was trying to work out twice a day," Palmer said. "I was taking every rep in practice. I was getting hardly any sleep. And it finally kind of caught up to me. I had a talk with Hue (Jackson) this morning. He just said I have to get some rest.
"Now I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable. But it was a little bit of a wall, and I feel like I kind of pushed through that wall."
"I've been feeling more and more comfortable," Palmer said. "But just last week, my timing was off on a couple balls that are plays I need to get more reps at. But I'm in no way like, 'Oh, this is great, I got this. This is easy.' "