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QB Palmer, finally healthy, sounds off about Ocho Cinco's absence

CINCINNATI -- Quarterback Carson Palmer considers his throwing elbow fully healed as he begins offseason workouts with his Cincinnati Bengals teammates, with one notable exception -- Chad Ocho Cinco.

Ocho Cinco was the only Bengals receiver who missed the team's voluntary workout on Monday, where Palmer was eager to get his timing back with a receiving corps that has undergone changes. T.J. Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle as a free agent and was replaced by Laveranues Coles.

"I'm not worried about (Chad). I'm worried about the guys we have here," said Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who added that he hasn't had any communication with Ocho Cinco this offseason. "The guys that want to be here and want to work now are the guys in the locker room here today and here this offseason. I'm not worried about anybody else."

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Palmer chose not to have reconstructive surgery for a partially torn ligament and tendon in his right elbow, which sidelined him for 12 games last season. Instead, he decided to see whether rest would heal the injury.

Before beginning voluntary workouts on Monday, Palmer said he is back to his usual throwing routine because the elbow is fine. The team plans to limit his throwing during preseason workouts as a precaution.

"I was timid at first," Palmer said of his decision to rest the elbow instead of having Tommy John surgery. "I was kind of going against a bunch of doctors and relying on one and what he said, and it turned out he was right.

"It's 100 percent and I'm healthy and I'm happy. Had I gone the other way, I don't know when I'd be able to throw again, but it wouldn't be now."

Palmer has been throwing three times a week near his home in Southern California. Several of the Bengals' young receivers have joined him for the sessions, including Jerome Simpson, a second-round draft pick last year.

"I saw that old Carson Palmer I used to look at when I was younger," Simpson said. "He has that strong arm, and he's just throwing the ball around and having fun. There was some zip on it. He overthrew me one time, and I hadn't seen that for a long time. I was surprised, but it showed me he's getting back to the old Carson now."

Palmer's younger brother, Jordan, is a backup Bengals quarterback and worked out with him at the sessions in California. Jordan Palmer was reminded of how his brother overcame injuries in the past, including a severe knee injury in the 2005 playoffs that required reconstructive surgery. Palmer's left knee was hurt on his first pass in a playoff loss to Pittsburgh, but he didn't miss any games in 2006.

"It's in his nature," Jordan Palmer said. "And that's why he's the man. He's ready to roll, and I think he'll be back and stronger than ever. I think he's really excited about this year. It was important for him to come into it healthy, and that's where he is now."

After Palmer talked to reporters, he addressed his teammates. Linebacker Keith Rivers said the quarterback told them to seize their opportunities this season. The Bengals have had only one winning season since 1991, one of the longest streaks of futility in NFL history, and are coming off a 4-11-1 season.

Palmer is entering his seventh season with the Bengals, who made him the first overall pick in 2003 then sat him for a year to learn the league.

"There's no more, 'Well, hopefully next year. Next year we're going to be better,'" Palmer said. "It's going into year seven and I feel like I haven't really played any football yet. I definitely haven't played in any significant games.

"I can't wait. I realize the more years you put in, the more you can't look to next year at any point in the season. The time is now. You need to seize the moment and the year, and this is our year."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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