Broncos feeling confident; Palmer talks Bengals; more notes
The Broncos aren't happy with their division rivals doubting the hype in Denver
Carson Palmer remembers his Bengal days fondly, but not owner Mike Brown
Red Bryant thinks controversial Seahawks first-rounder Bruce Irvin will be a star
One of the best things about touring training camps is that you come across all kinds of information. Unfortunately, some if it never gets published because it doesn't fit the story that's being written, or there isn't enough space for it.
I visited eight camps in 17 days, wrote postcards from each visit as well as previews on each team. While cleaning out my notebook, I came across some items that failed to make it into print but were interesting to me -- and maybe only me.
The Broncos instantly became a popular pick to the win the AFC West when they signed Peyton Manning, the four-time league MVP quarterback. Chargers general manager A.J. Smith went so far as to tell U-T San Diego "I just hope the Broncos don't run away with the division and leave the rest of us behind in the dust."
Such sarcasm wasn't limited to Smith. Players within the division echoed his words in sentiment and tone. Said one, with tongue firmly in cheek: "I don't know why we're playing the games. They should just hand the Broncos the title."
Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil wasn't amused by the comments when I asked him about them. "They can be sarcastic all they want, but they know what it is," he said. "At the end of the day it's for real. Last year we did some things on defense and made some strides. Offensively we could have done better. But the guys in this locker room and the coaching staff that we have, we're second to nobody. We feel that way.
"We don't want friends this year. We've got a lot of guys who've done things on this team that are hungry. Peyton is coming off the injury and has so much to prove. Champ Bailey wants a ring. Last year I played hurt and feel like I haven't displayed my primetime yet. Von Miller got hurt toward the end and now he's ready to show he can come out and be an all-around dominant defensive player. Chris Kuper coming off injury. It's for real.
"We've been working, busting our ass all offseason," he continued. "We're not out here talking just because we've got Peyton. That's a great help for us. But we went to the playoffs last year and won our first game. We were nowhere near where we are now. At the same time we're putting that work in. It can be all jokes and sarcasm now, but when that ball's snapped it's for real. When it comes game time, that's when the fun will kick in. Right now we're just out here grinding. We know nobody is going to lay down and give it to us. We don't expect that. We want you to come at us hard. We're ready."
After eight seasons with the Bengals, who drafted him No. 1 overall in 2003, quarterback Carson Palmer held out for nearly half of last season and forced a trade that landed him in Oakland. Before the trade, Palmer's camp said he would retire if Cincinnati didn't deal him. I asked Palmer if he could've been satisfied if he had never played again.
"I don't think so. I don't know," he said. "I don't think I ever thought it wouldn't happen -- eventually. I figured they've got to trade me at some point, whether it's Week 1 or 6 or after the season. At some point they have to do it, so I never really let my mind go to: 'This is it. I'm done playing.' "
The Bengals initially said they would not trade Palmer, but changed their minds after Oakland, desperate for QB help after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone, surrendered a 2012 first-round pick and a second-rounder in 2013.
"At some point you have to do what's best for your team and your organization and your future," Palmer said of the Bengals. "When you looked at it from the standpoint that it was the best thing for the organization, and you've got a really good young team, and you've got something to build on for the future -- it was just time. I was looking at it that way for myself, and I convinced myself that you have to do this. It's just what's best. It was just time for them to move on. They had a really good young, up-and-coming team. They were a little ways off but very talented, and it was time to start over with a new quarterback. Their recipe with me didn't work. I could have been wrong, I could have been right, but I kept looking at it like they have a responsibility to do what's best for their organization, so it just makes sense to trade me."
Bengals owner Mike Brown has a reputation in some circles of holding grudges and refusing to be bullied by players making contract or trade demands. Palmer had to be aware of this, right?
"I know what I was dealing with," he said. "I had been there long enough and heard enough stories; I know him on a personal level like that. I'd heard enough stories. But it was time."
While out, Palmer kept up with the season by watching games on television. But he had to go to a friend's house or a San Diego-area pub to see games because he couldn't get satellite reception."DirecTV came out but we couldn't get a strong enough signal because there was a tree in the way," he said. "I was also too lazy to call and have them come out again. Oh, yeah. I got the itch to play again when I was watching the games on TV. It wasn't easy. But at the same time I'm such a fan of the game and the players -- friends, guys I played with in Cincinnati -- that as much as it's not fun and sucks to watch when you still want to play, I loved seeing guys do well. That part eased the pain."
He also monitored Bengals games, saying: "Oh, yeah, I watched them. My feelings about wanting to leave had nothing to do with any player or any coach. It had nothing to do with anyone other than the guy running the organization. That was it. I cheered them on, rooted them on, while I was out. I loved playing with a lot of guys who were there. I rooted them on and liked seeing them do well."
Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin, a first-round draft choice out of West Virginia, has been the talk of training camp because of his quickness off the edge and his long wing span. But the thing that grabbed my attention about him was this comment from veteran defensive lineman Red Bryant.
"I believe Bruce is going to be special, and the reason I believe that is, first, he listens," Bryant said. "It's hard to get a guy who's a first-round draft pick to listen. A lot of time with young guys when they've been successful it's hard to get them to listen. He's attentive and he's coachable. Those are the biggest traits that I see that are going to allow him to be successful. His speed speaks for itself. A couple of practices ago Marshawn Lynch broke through and ran for about 70 yards, and Bruce came out of nowhere and basically had a great angle on him and actually could have caught him. He's a phenomenal athlete and I think he's going to have a big year for us, but a lot of that has to do with his willingness to learn."
The disappointment on the faces of Chargers players and coaches after second-year wideout Vincent Brown broke his ankle last Satuday night against the Cowboys was real. Several reasons: The Chargers had planned to feature Brown in their passing game. He was the only receiver who knew each of the three wideout positions, and he was their best route-runner.
What I didn't know, courtesy of fellow wideout Malcom Floyd: Despite being 6 inches shorter than the 6-foot-5 Floyd, Brown could leap as high and had a wing span as wide as Floyd's. "His thumb is actually longer than mine," Floyd says. I'm not sure what to make of that, but it sounded interesting.