No. 9 says he’s doing fine.
But Carson Palmer, who took Jon Kitna’s corner locker and not his No, 3 jersey, doesn’t know when he’ll be back. He does know that the May minicamps are too soon and that Opening Day is too far away to make the call.
He does know that he has normal range of motion in the reconstructed left knee and that he’s “where I should be,” 10 weeks into rehab.
“I wish I had a crystal ball. I know everyone wants to know a date when I‘ll be back. I wish I had a date. But we have to sit back and see what happens,” Palmer said Wednesday at a Paul Brown Stadium news conference, his first interview since Jan. 10 reconstructive knee surgery.
Palmer, 73 days removed from the hit by Steelers defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen that tore two knee ligaments in the Wild Card Game at PBS, says he goes through 40 exercises a day since he returned to PBS for rehab two weeks ago. He doesn’t know when he’ll be allowed to drop back and throw, or start running, and says he’s a quarter of the way back “if this is four quarters.”
Palmer says he has no ill will toward von Oelhofen, but admitted he was so “pissed” when the Steelers won it all that he turned off the Super Bowl when Seattle fell behind.
He had much nicer things to say about the Bengals faithful that have showered him with get-well wishes and gifts that included three 10-foot greeting cards.
“Very overwhelming. It’s really touching to me and my family,” Palmer said. “It just shows the loyalty and support in Cincinnati and from the Bengals fans. It makes it that much more exciting and makes you want to work that much harder to get back. I feel like I’ve really brought something positive into their lives and it’s so special for me.”
Palmer says he’s seen replays of the hit, but that the only thing that comes to mind when he sees it is what happened later. When he was driven home that day lying on the folded seat of a truck in the third quarter, he remembers the lights of the stadium and the crowd noise fading.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said.
Palmer defended two of his receivers that have been under fire this offseason, Chris Henry for a felony gun arrest and Chad Johnson for an alleged halftime outburst in the locker room during the Wild Card loss.
“I look forward to playing with that guy. ... He made some bad decisions. He more than anybody knows ... he’ll move on,” Palmer said of Henry, one of his rehab partners.
“Chad is a fierce competitor,” Palmer said. “That happens in a negative situation like that. A lot of rumors get started after a big loss. Somebody pops off, says something they shouldn’t have said, makes something up ... nothing happened, and we’ll move on.”
Affirming his position as the Everyman Superstar, Palmer has replaced his local celebrity golf tournament with a June cornhole tournament he hopes can be staged at PBS featuring several of his teammates. He admitted he can’t golf and by then he’ll be able to toss the bags. Like the golf tourney, all proceeds are earmarked for a group of abandoned and abused children.
No doubt he’ll be signing a bunch of No. 9 jerseys that day instead of his college No. 3.
“Too late to change it now,” Palmer said. “I guess I'll stick with what works. It might make the merchandise people a little upset.”