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Storylines to follow for Chiefs @ Raiders

Clearly Head Coach Hue Jackson has all the confidence in the world in Carson Palmer for even considering him to be a potential starter on Sunday. As players media, and coaches alike watched in high anticipation at Raiders practice today it became apparent that Palmer is on the fast track. However, there are more storylines this week than just the Carson Palmer trade and the impending suddenness of his first starting action in 2011. It still remains to be seen if Palmer will be cut loose, but obviously, the way the Raiders have established themselves on defense and in the ground game in the past couple of games, Palmer may not need to do much if he does indeed start.

Palmer or Not? That is the question

Which Carson Palmer is it going to be out there for the Raiders, the former Heisman Trophy winning gunslinger or the hesitant and reluctant Palmer of the past few seasons?

Palmer was supposed to have Tommy John surgery to repair an injured elbow in 2008. Instead he bypassed the surgery and chose to rehab it using alternative methods. The surgery replaces a ligament in the elbow with a tendon from somewhere else in the body. It is quite common in baseball with pitchers that “throw their arm out.” Palmer says there are no lingering effects of the three year old injury, but it is said that in some cases, a pitcher can actually throw harder after the surgery than he did before it, so perhaps it’s something the Raiders and Palmer can discuss six years from now when his arm starts to lose some of its power.

As for now, the newest addition to the Raiders has a lot to prove. For one, if he indeed does get the starting nod Sunday, he has to live up to Kyle Boller’s 8-14 100-yard passing performance from last week. Though most likely the Raiders will put strong emphasis on their ground game, Palmer will be forced into throwing situations at times during the contest. Don’t expect the Chiefs to stack the box on him, however, because Palmer is still very dangerous no matter which version shows up.

Curry it over

With all the Carson Palmer talk this week, it’s almost been swept under the rug that another former top ten draft choice was added to the roster on the other side of the ball last week. This week, Aaron Curry will get his second start as the Raiders weakside linebacker. The addition of Curry also added much needed depth to the team in the defensive front seven.

Curry graded his first game as a Raider at a 90 percent. He said that he likes to flash on the film when the coaches go over it the following day. His three tackles left a lot to be desired, but his effort was definitely worth a seventh and potential third round draft choice in the future. The test this week will be to see if Curry can up those extra ten percentage points and give the Raiders 100 percent now that he is more acclimated with his new defensive mates.

Following the game, he said that “The best thing has been able to fit in and not feel any negative heat from anyone. Just to be able to fit in, play defense, and be who I am as a person, I enjoyed the whole experience.”

Sell some tickets

It’s unclear yet as to whether or not the Raiders are going to sellout the O.co for the fourth consecutive game this weekend. If there were odds on such thing, they would most likely be in favor of that happening. Raider Nation will no doubt be very interested in seeing exactly what the Raiders are going to look like now that they have lost the leader of the offense, Jason Campbell.

If Palmer goes on Sunday – and there is no reason to think he won’t at this point – it will be up to Hue Jackson and Al Saunders to sell the players on the idea of a quarterback that has been there a mere five days leading the team to victory. It will be up to Palmer to go out there and actually do it. At the very least, Palmer will be the back-up to Boller, whom honestly could be pulled at any minute.

But I suspect fans will be interested in seeing the Raiders get another win in the division as well, since they haven’t played a divisional game since week one against the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs are coming off of two straight wins and a bye week after looking like a high school team in the first two games of the season. The Raiders will be looking for their third straight win before heading into their bye week.

Jackson cutting loose on scholarships?

Jerome Boyd was cut, Joe Porter was cut, Quentin Groves was replaced and benched, Jason Campbell appears to be done in Oakland after this season and it has all happened since Al Davis passed away 11 days ago. These are four guys that saw extensive playing time of the Raiders this season prior to the passing of the Raiders’ legendary owner. So the question becomes is it a coincidence or is it a clear cut sign that Jackson didn’t want these players all along?

Well with Boyd, you could point to the fact that Mike Mitchell has returned from injury, so his presence is no longer needed. The cut of Joe Porter indicates that the Raiders may be expecting Chris Johnson to make his way back onto the field soon. Perhaps they like what they see from Demarcus Van Dyke and they have Chimdi Chekwa coming back into the fold. Michael Huff has also been exceptional in the nickel coverage role for the team this year.

Groves was demoted to reserve and special teams upon the trade for Aaron Curry. By most accounts, Groves was playing better in 2011 than he did the prior year. This move may not have been necessary and it remains to be seen just exactly what the team has in Curry.

Jason Campbell was obviously injured, but the team could’ve made the switch to Kyle Boller and brought in Trent Edwards to back him up or give him decent competition. Instead, they traded for a player that was nearly unobtainable and has a very questionable recent history. The addition of Carson Palmer most likely means the subtraction of Campbell following this season.  It seems kind of sudden to quit on the guy that Hue Jackson so boldly proclaimed was his starting quarterback just six weeks ago.

There’s no way to be sure if it is just the way the chips fell or if it is a ploy by Coach Jackson to ditch some scholarships and upgrade rapidly. Either way, it is a clear message to the team that nobody is safe and they better work their tails off if they want to keep their jobs.

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