Quarterback Carson Palmer’s first start for the Oakland Raiders ended with a 28-14 loss to the Broncos in Week 9 of the 2011 season.
It was the last time the two teams met. Since then, much has changed for Palmer and the Raiders.
“I’m definitely more comfortable this year,” Palmer said in a conference call on Wednesday. “The opportunities this year I’ve had with guys to work in the offseason and downtime, (and work on) the timing and the rhythm of the passing game (with) the tight ends has really benefitted us as an offense and me, myself, personally.”
Following the Week 9 loss to Denver, the Raiders went on a three-game winning streak as Palmer showed he still has the abilities that made him a No. 1 draft pick in the 2003 NFL draft. In his nine starts for Oakland in 2011, he averaged just less than 300 yards passing per game.
The problem for Palmer and the offense was a 13-to-16 touchdown-to-interception ratio, as Oakland finished with a .500 record and missed the playoffs by a game.
This year, Palmer is off to a much better start. He has thrown for five touchdowns to just two interceptions and led the Raiders to a comeback victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3.
“I’ve seen a lot of progress,” Head Coach Dennis Allen said. “Obviously, he’s getting more comfortable with the offense every day, and getting a better feel for his reads and the things he is keying in on. I knew that he was a good quarterback. I know that from having to prepare against him last year (as the Broncos defensive coordinator). He’s really starting to come into his own in this offensive scheme and he’s been a great leader for us. He’s a very good player for us.”
With Allen as the team’s new head coach and the quarterback having a full offseason in Oakland under his belt, Palmer said there is a “completely different feel” among the team.
“I’ve been through OTAs and minicamps and meetings and installs, film sessions and practice reps, preseason games and now a couple of regular season games,” Palmer said. “(It’s a) completely different year (with a) new offense. Everything’s changed. But I’m definitely much more comfortable right now.”