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Palmer headed back to Cincy for awkward reunion
November 22, 2012, 05:00 AM The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton has never spoken to Carson Palmer, the quarterback he replaced last year. Coach Marvin Lewis has limited his interaction with the former franchise player to a few texts.

None of the Bengals has stayed in close contact with Palmer since they parted ways a little more than a year ago. And there’s not a whole lot to say about their slightly awkward reunion Sunday.

The Raiders (3-7) are coming to Paul Brown Stadium with the quarterback who led the Bengals (5-5) to some of their best moments of the past 20 years, then decided he wanted out because he was worn out.

Palmer is looking forward to his first visit to the area since the Bengals finished 4-12 in the 2010 season, prompting him to demand a trade.

"I’m excited,” he said during a 23-minute conference call with Cincinnati writers on Wednesday. "One of my favorite stadiums to play in, great atmosphere, beautiful stadium. Obviously, with the past it adds a little bit on it. They need a win, we need a win. It’s a big game for both sides.

"I expect it to be loud and extremely electric. I’m not exactly expecting a welcome back.”

For the Bengals, it’s less about Palmer and more about the playoffs. They’ve played their best games of the season back-to-back, leaving them one game out in the wild card race. That makes it much easier to focus on something other than the notable visitor.

"We moved on past the Carson situation a while back,” safety Chris Crocker said. "It’s really about who’s next, and the Oakland Raiders are the next team up. I’m sure the Raiders are going to come in and here and be jacked and be excited to play.

"Really it’s not about him this week.”

Not even a little?

"It’s not just talk, it’s really the truth,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "Nobody has talked about it.”

The community doesn’t seem all that interested in it, either. The Bengals hadn’t sold out the game by midweek. The fans that do show up can be expected to boo the quarterback who brought hope to one of the NFL’s worst franchises — three winning records in the last 21 years — before deciding he needed out.

"Just a culmination of things,” Palmer said Wednesday. "Some things that I had learned that ownership ... Just some things that built up over time and it was just time for a change.”

Asked to complete the sentence about ownership’s plans, Palmer said, "No, I’m not going to go into that.”

He told the media in Oakland on Wednesday that his former teammates understood.

"I think that anybody that’s ever played for that ownership knows what I was doing and why I was doing it,” Palmer said.

His standoff with owner Mike Brown ended when Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone midway through last season and Oakland offered a first-round and a conditional second-round pick. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson — a former Bengals assistant who scouted Palmer in high school — strongly supported the move.

Jackson was fired after an 8-8 finish in Oakland. He came back to the Bengals as an assistant coach for special teams and defensive backs. He’s trying not to get wrapped up in his reunion week.

"Honestly, it’s really another football game,” Jackson said after practice. "For me, it is. It has to be. You can’t get caught up in the emotional part of it because that’s not what this is about.”

Dalton has managed to avoid the drama, too.

Knowing that Palmer had threatened to hold out, the Bengals took Dalton in the second round of the 2011 draft and installed him as the starter. When Dalton looked good at the start of the season, the Bengals became open to trading Palmer.

One advantage to how it worked out: Palmer’s status wasn’t a distraction to Dalton because he was never around.

"Everything’s worked out,” said Dalton, who led the Bengals to the playoffs with a 9-7 record and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. "For me, it’s perfect. I got to play all last year, got to start and didn’t have to worry about all that stuff.”

Notes: CB Adam "Pacman” Jones (calf) and WR Andrew Hawkins (knee) didn’t practice on Wednesday. Hawkins missed the win over Kansas City on Sunday with his injury, sustained during practice. ... C Jeff Faine was limited in practice by a hamstring injury. S Reggie Nelson (hamstring) and CB Terence Newman (concussion) practiced fully.

———

AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.

———

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP—NFL


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