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Foot in the door

Palmer hopes painful injury doesn't linger

Posted: Wednesday August 13, 2003 6:43 PM
  Carson Palmer Carson Palmer aggravated his foot injury against the Jets in the preseason opener. AP

By Don Banks, SI.com

GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Carson Palmer's plantar fascia injury may not prove to be a serious roadblock in the development of the NFL's No. 1 overall draft pick, but for now it's a painful one.

After working out on a limited basis Wednesday morning, Cincinnati's rookie quarterback sat out the afternoon practice -- the third workout in two days he has missed. Both the Bengals and Palmer are downplaying the severity of the partially torn tendon in his right foot, but he was especially gimpy Wednesday afternoon as he watched his teammates go through their paces.

"It sucks, but I'm looking at it as a small bump in the road," Palmer told SI.com on Wednesday. "I'm hoping I can get through this thing. I haven't thought of it as a big deal or a big problem. I just need to get it as solid as I can before game day, this Saturday, and hopefully I don't have to worry about it much more this season."

Palmer wasn't the only key offensive player missing work on Wednesday. Running back Corey Dillon twisted his ankle early in the morning practice and left to receive treatment. He did not take part in the afternoon practice either, but Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Dillon's injury only required ice and was not very serious.

Palmer and Dillon watched some of the afternoon session side by side on the Cincinnati sideline, with the duo representing as much as $75 million in contract commitments. After the afternoon practice, a noticeably limping Palmer said the club had decided early Wednesday that he would work out just once the next couple of days. Palmer missed both of Tuesday's practice sessions with the injury.

"That was a decision I knew had been made going into today," Palmer said. "It's just because they knew it was going to be sore after I practiced on it in the morning."

Plantar fascitis can be a nagging, lingering injury depending on the severity of the tendon tear. Players such as Marshall Faulk and Wesley Walls had long drawn out struggles with plantar fascia injuries in recent years.

Palmer said he sprained the tendon in spring minicamp. When he ran all out at some point in the second half of the Bengals' preseason-opening 28-13 loss at the Jets on Sunday, he partially tore the tendon. Lewis told SI.com that it was his belief that Palmer has suffered but quickly recovered from plantar fascitis during his collegiate career, but Palmer said Wednesday afternoon that his first experience with the injury came in this spring's minicamp.

Palmer has made it clear he intends to play in the preseason home opener against Detroit on Saturday night, but Lewis voiced only qualified support for that idea. Dillon's status for the Lions game is unknown.

"[Palmer] wants to play, but it depends on how he is," Lewis said. "If he has the mobility, then he will play. If he doesn't, then he will not. We just have to wait and see how he is."

Lewis did note that if he plays, Palmer will see action in the first half against the Lions after starter Jon Kitna leaves the game. Against the Jets, Palmer played the entire second half after Kitna and Shane Matthews had seen action. That left Palmer playing with and against mostly second and third-team players.

"We want Carson to play with the better group of guys and then we'll see where it goes from there," said Lewis, adding that it did not mean his rookie had leapfrogged Matthews to No. 2 on the team's depth chart. "As long as Carson is healthy, then he will play in the first half."

In Wednesday morning's practice, Palmer was able to throw, but he had limited mobility and did no real running.

"I probably could have sprinted, but it's not worth it right now to take off and run," he said. "I just want to let it heal as much as possible before the game. I just have to play through it. It'll be fine."

But with rest being the best treatment for plantar fascitis, Palmer's situation could be problematic. The Bengals are trying to get their top pick as much practice and playing time as possible in the preseason, before he is expected to fill the No. 3 quarterback role behind Kitna and Matthews -- at least early in the season.

"You've just got to let it heal," Palmer said. "It's been so swollen after I messed it up. You've got to let the swelling go down, and now it's feeling better."


 
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