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Palmer, Raiders provide challenges

Posted Nov 29, 2012

Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders have offensive weapons that will challenge the Browns, according to coach Pat Shurmur.

When the Cleveland Browns played at Oakland last season, Jason Campbell was the Raiders’ starting quarterback and Kyle Boller served as his backup.

The Browns saw both quarterbacks in the game after Campbell suffered a season-ending injury in the first half.

Following the game against the Browns, the Raiders traded with the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer, who has been the starter since arriving in Oakland.

Palmer has completed 271 of 449 pass attempts (60.4 percent) for 3,181 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions this season. He has been sacked 24 times for 182 yards, but still carries an 84.1 quarterback rating.

Palmer carries a 9-3 record against the Browns. He has completed 249 of 396 attempts for 2,835 yards and 25 touchdowns against 14 interceptions and been sacked 20 times in those starts.

“I’ve always thought Carson Palmer was one of the better quarterbacks in the league and he’s showing that out there,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s got outstanding numbers. He can win games.”

This season, Palmer has built a rapport with second-year wide receiver Denarius Moore. Moore’s 36 catches rank third on the Raiders and he has turned those receptions into 604 yards and six touchdowns, both team bests. In his two-year career with the Raiders, Moore has caught 69 passes for 1,222 yards with 11 touchdowns and one rushing score on six carries.

“He’s developing a relationship with his receivers and it’s obviously taken time, even though he was there at the end of last year,” Shurmur said of Palmer. “It’s a new system for him and there’s a lot of new this year that I’m sure he’s got to work through.”

In addition to Palmer continuing to develop a rapport with the Raiders’ wide receivers, head coach Dennis Allen has worked with a backfield that has not been healthy since Darren McFadden suffered an ankle injury in a 42-32 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 4. That loss to the Buccaneers was the team’s first of four straight after it started the year 3-4.

McFadden, who missed a combined 19 games in his first four seasons with injuries to his foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring, has a team best 455 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yard score, on 139 carries.

“We’re planning like he’ll play,” Shurmur said of McFadden. “He’s explosive. He’s one of those guys that can score when he has the ball in his hands. It doesn’t matter where they’re at on the field. They could be on their one-yard line and this guy can score. When you have players on the field that can score touchdowns, that’s what you want. With him not being in there, that’s hurt them. With him being in there, it’s obviously going to help.”

ROOKIE PRODUCTION

The Browns began the season with rookies playing critical roles at the skill positions with Brandon Weeden at quarterback, Trent Richardson at running back and Josh Gordon at wide receiver. They also started the year with rookie Mitchell Schwartz as the starting right tackle.

Through the first 11 games, Schwartz and the Browns have surrendered only 20 sacks for 129 lost yards.

“He’s doing an outstanding job for a guy who’s in his first year in the league,” Shurmur said. “When you don’t talk about right tackles in the NFL, then, there’s something good happening. I’m pleased with where he’s going in terms of his development as a right tackle in the NFL. Just like any of these young guys, you just want him to continue.”

RUNNING THE BALL

Richardson ran for 85 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries against the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday. Currently, he leads the team with 755 yards and six touchdowns on 209 carries and is showing his skills in finding holes to run through.

“He’s a decisive runner,” Shurmur said. “His style sometimes makes it look like he’s working his way into the hole, but that can be deceiving at times. I thought he ran with a very physical style on Sunday and he had a very productive day. I think each game he plays, each on-field situation, he’ll get better and better and I think he’ll look forward to having an even better game.”

REVIEWING LOW BLOCKS

On Wednesday, Shurmur was asked about his thoughts on the NFL competition committee possibly looking at eliminating blocks below the waist.

“I think (people) are constantly looking for ways to make this a safer game,” Shurmur said. “Unfortunately, this game is a very physical game and the unintended consequence of injury is always present, but it’s like anything, they’ll look for the best ways to keep the game physical, keep the game safe.

“I do know low blocks occur and from my understanding, you can go low on a guy if he sees you. You can’t do it if you’re coming outside-in or on the backside. We try to teach it, but we try to do it in a manner that’s within the rules and still effective.”

FOURTH CAPTAIN

Veteran defensive end Juqua Parker has been named the team’s fourth captain for Sunday’s game against the Raiders.

Last week, Parker forced a fumble that resulted in Weeden’s five-yard touchdowns pass to tight end Jordan Cameron in the second quarter against Pittsburgh. In Dallas the week before, Parker collected two tackles, including one sack for a loss of 10 yards.

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