With the Oakland Raiders season opener on Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers approaching, quarterback Carson Palmer is looking to build on two solid performances last year against the AFC West rival. Now that Palmer has a full offseason to get command of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's offense, his success against the Chargers should continue.
Last season Palmer only played in 10 games for the Raiders after his trade from the Cincinnati Bengals, but was still able to play the Chargers twice. In the first meeting, Palmer made is his second start for the Raiders and led Oakland to a 24-17 win. In the game Palmer went 14-20 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. In the second meeting on the last day of the 2011 season, the Chargers defeated the Raiders 38-26, but Palmer eclipsed his season high in passing. He finished 28-43 for 417 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Both games Palmer had a quarterback rating over 100.
This preseason Palmer has struggled with decision making. He has thrown four interceptions in four preseason games. He has admitted to taking more chances in the preseason as he gets a feel for the offense. Neither Palmer nor offensive coordinator Greg Knapp seemed concerned about the interception numbers.
With wide receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore in question with injuries for the season opener, Palmer may have to rely on rookies Rod Streater and Juron Criner. Palmer and Streater worked together in the preseason and developed some chemistry. He will have Darrius Heyward-Bey as his go to receiver against the Chargers. Heyward-Bey did not play in the first game against the Chargers last season, but posted 9 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown in the season finale loss.
The Chargers brought in strong safety Atari Bigby to solidify the position, but the rest of their secondary remains from last season. Cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cason as well as free safety Eric Weddle will be challenged by Palmer. As long as the Raiders offensive line can keep Palmer clean, which they have in the preseason, he is poised for a big day.
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