Carson Palmer used his experience against the Steelers to help his Oakland Raiders teammates this week because “this is my 19th or 20th time, and it’s never easy.”
Actually, Palmer, the former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback, has played against the Steelers only 13 times. It just seems like more because the Steelers are 4-9 against him.
Not that the Steelers have ever taken Palmer’s skills for granted.
“I don’t see too much difference in him at all,” Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said of Palmer the Raider.
“He’s a veteran, experienced quarterback. You’re not going to fool him. He certainly has knowledge of us from playing us twice a year all those years in Cincinnati. You can see his influence in the passing game. They put in quite a few things that he likes to throw. We’ll have to play well. He’s an excellent quarterback.”
Palmer joined the Raiders in the second half of last season when the offense threw the deep ball. Now, they’re running new coordinator Greg Knapp’s offense and Palmer’s throwing more often to his running backs and tight ends.
“We’re only two games into the whole new system but offensively I love what we’re doing and the way we’re attacking people,” Palmer said. “We’re young and we have a lot of young players and a couple of rookies playing for us and some younger guys playing all over the place for us. It’s been a good transition; not good enough obviously, and we’re going to continue to work at it. We’re excited to go up against one of the perennial powers in this league and see how we fair.”
TROY THE ACTOR
Troy Polamalu won’t play today, and that has to be a relief to Palmer, who for years has been bedeviled by his former college roommate.
Polamalu has surprised Palmer several times throughout their pro careers, and he surprised him again with his recent career as a TV pitchman.
“I definitely didn’t see that coming,” Palmer said. “I’m sure it’s one of those deals where Troy will just kind of say, “Yes,” if too many people get on him. I’m sure it wasn’t something he really wanted to do. I’m sure he was kind of pushed into doing it, but it’s awesome. I love seeing Troy all over the place on billboards here in Oakland for Head and Shoulders or for Coke or whatever it is. You guys know Troy. You can’t do anything but love the guy.”
THE PA RAIDERS
The Raiders are represented by 15 Californians, the most from any state on their roster. The runner-up is Pennsylvania with five, and those five haven’t had much luck. It almost seems they’ve been jinxed.
The five Raiders from Pennsylvania are: LS Jon Condo (Phillipsburg), OL Lucas Nix (Jefferson Hills), QB Terrelle Pryor (Jeannette), CB Shawntae Spencer (Pittsburgh) and C/G Stefen Wisniewski (Pittsburgh).
Nix and Pryor have been inactive for both games this season, and Spencer was injured last week and will miss today’s game. Wisniewski sat out the first game, but was the starting center last week. Condo left the opener with a head injury and his replacement misfired on two long snaps and a third resulted in Shane Lechler’s first blocked punt since 2006. The San Diego Chargers kicked three field goals off of those snaps and beat the Raiders 22-14.
The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum wasn’t the specific inspiration for Lefeangai Ta’amu when his son was born a little more than 22 years ago – the city of Alameda was.
Alameda Ta’amu was born in Alameda, where his father was a church deacon. His father was called to pastor in the state of Washington so he moved the family to Seattle.
Today, about 50 family members will attend the game. Ta’amu probably won’t play but he said, “It means a lot to me.” He also said that he’s not worried about any trouble awaiting his towel-waving clan in the notorious “Black Hole.”
“Most of my family was ’Niners fans growing up, so they’re used to fighting with Raiders fans,” Ta’amu said of his four brothers and three sisters.
“There have been a couple fights over there. I’ve heard it can be dangerous but I’m not worried. My family, they’re a lot like me.”
Big like you?
“Yeah,” the 350-pounder said with a smile. “They’ll be all right. They’ll wear their Steelers jerseys and they won’t care.”
Heath Miller (3,933) needs 67 receiving yards to become the eighth Steeler to record 4,000 career receiving yards, and he’s looking for his third consecutive game with a touchdown. One more touchdown will tie him for seventh place on the team’s all-time list with Ray Mathews at 34.
Miller missed two practices this week with some torn rib cartilage, but is expected to play. The same cannot be said for Polamalu (calf), James Harrison (knee) and Rashard Mendenhall (knee), who are being held out of the game and will likely return for the game following the bye week.
Tomlin and Raiders coach Dennis Allen are the NFL’s youngest head coaches. Tomlin turned 40 in March. Allen turned 40 yesterday, or about three months before the Steelers defeated the Raiders in one of the league’s greatest games.
“I know it’s been 40 years since the Immaculate Reception,” said Allen. “There are a lot of people around here that try to forget all about that.”
Steelers safety Ryan Clark on DeMarcus Van Dyke, the cornerback who was cut before the start of the season by the Raiders and who then signed with the Steelers:
“I like him. The biggest thing is he came in and contributed right away on special teams. And when you’re a young corner who possesses the athletic talent he has, that’s what you’re looking for: a guy who will stick his nose in there and make plays, and he did that for us. Hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure sometimes. So they can cut him, and we’ll take him. We have three young corners from the same draft who can really play football. It’s looking good for us.”