View Full Version : Palmer's hitting the turf

10-05-2006, 08:58 AM
Palmer's hitting the turf
O-line trying to regain form

By Kevin Goheen
Post staff reporter

Carson Palmer has passed a test none of his offensive linemen wanted him to take. If anyone questioned how the Bengals quarterback's surgically repaired knee would hold up under game pressure - and there were plenty of people wondering - the answer they've gotten is a resounding "Yes."

To the dismay of the Bengals, they've had to discover that fact through Palmer being sacked 15 times as well as pressured and hit on numerous other occasions.

Before the season started, the offensive line drew praise for how well it has played as a unit and how it could be considered one of the NFL's elite groups.

Palmer was sacked just 19 times all of last season when the Bengals allowed the second fewest sacks in the league with 21 total. In the last three games against Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New England, Palmer has been sacked 14 times. He's fumbled the ball five times in the past two weeks against the Steelers and Patriots, losing it three times.
Four games into the season, even with the Bengals owning a 3-1 record, the offensive line is looking closely at itself in an attempt to regain the form that garnered it that praise. There have been injuries - center Rich Braham is out indefinitely with a fracture just below his left knee, while left tackle Levi Jones sat out one game with an ankle injury - but health isn't the only issue causing worries.

"There is never a sense of panic," said Jones. "We're not a panicky bunch, as far as players go. We need to try to calm down and get the situations worked out as they happen. It doesn't always work out. Carson has already been touched a lot more than to my liking and any of the offensive linemen's liking but the situation is what it is. We've got to try to figure out how to get it right with or without the guys that are injured."

Eric Ghiaciuc has started the last two games in place of Braham, who was in the locker room Wednesday with a brace around his left knee and walking with crutches. In just his second season, Ghiaciuc has a tough role to fill.

Braham's 13 seasons allow him to see and read defensive fronts other players won't pick up simply because they haven't experienced those things in game action. Braham is able to not only make adjustments at the line for his fellow linemen but for Palmer as well.

"What you're doing is replacing the communicator, the guy who basically makes the calls on both runs and passes so the left side works in conjunction with the right," said offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. "(Ghiaciuc) is playing good, (but) he can play better. He played good against Pittsburgh (but) he can play better. It's just experience. It's more experience than anything else because with him and his position you can some- what relate it to a rookie quarterback or a young quarterback playing and all of the issues that a young quarterback has when he has to play for the first time."

Ghiaciuc has maintained the routine he had before Braham was injured, which means he's at the team's facilities at Paul Brown Stadium on Tuesdays - a normal off-day for players - watching video, taking notes and making sure he's up to date with that week's game plan. He can only get experience one game at a time, however, said Bratkowski.

The Bengals have a bye this week, so Ghiaciuc and the rest of the unit are fine-tuning their techniques for Tampa Bay, Cincinnati's next opponent on Oct. 15.

"The center assumes a lot of responsibility," said Ghiaciuc. "If the center doesn't know what he's doing, a lot of times the other guys still know, but they need a commanding leader out there.

"Carson's got a million things going through his head. If you see something that he missed, you're obligated to say something because you're not helping anybody if you don't. That's what a good center should do."

The Bengals finished last season ranked No. 6 in the NFL in total offense, which is based on yards gained, and No. 4 in points scored. Much of the credit started with the offensive line of Jones, Braham, left guard Eric Steinbach, right guard Bobbie Williams and right tackle Willie Anderson. All five returned this season for a third consecutive year together - the fourth season together for all but Williams - and expectations were high for the performance level to remain at that level.

The Bengals are 19th in total offense through the first quarter of the season, although they remain No. 7 in points scored. Things aren't bad but neither is anyone arguing that so far the unit's performance isn't up to the standard set for itself in the past.

"The one thing that the original line had, that togetherness," said Williams. "You've just got to get that feel, and in this league you've got to do it fast. There's no margin for error. You see what can happen with that error - it leads to five or six sacks. And that's not us. That's not this offensive line here in Cincinnati at all. We feel we're out of character with that, but that's something we can fix and we're going to fix."

"That's what we're here for. That's why the organization has selected the gentlemen that they have, not just the starters but the guys that's backups, too, because they feel they can come in and contribute real quick."

tony hipchest
10-05-2006, 10:50 AM
this morning in his weekly spot on sirius radio, marvin lewis placed some of the blame on carson also for always wanting to go deep. its seeming more and more that these bengal players are more concerned with personal stats than team goals.

unravelling continues.

steelfan 92
10-06-2006, 12:15 PM
who cares the bungles suck

10-06-2006, 05:48 PM
yes....I agree.......the Bungles suck.