Carson Palmer brings an AFC North rivalry to the West Coast on Sunday when the Raiders play host to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s doubtful Palmer will have any better understanding of an opposing defense than he does this week, given the 12 regular-season games since 2004 he has played against the Steelers while a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.
“There’s some different pieces to the puzzle, but it’s really the same scheme,” Palmer said. “There’s always a new wrinkle or two each week. But as far as preparing for a fist fight in the trenches, battles on the outside, getting rid of the ball on time and finding ways to run the ball, it’s the way you prepare for them every time.”
Palmer is 4-8 against Pittsburgh as a starter, with the most success coming in a two-game sweep of the Steelers in 2009.
His 12-game statistics, not surprisingly, are below his career norms against a team that historically has one of the NFL’s top defenses.
Palmer has completed 57.1 percent of his passes (234-for-410) for 2,402 yards, 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 76.7 passer rating.
The Raiders’ quarterback likes the consistency of approach by the Steelers under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, and the way the organization rotates in young players but always has plenty of experience and a detailed knowledge of their system.
“They don’t miss on draft picks,” Palmer said. “If you look at their experience, there are three or four guys that are 10-year guys. And when these guys study film, they’re not studying a new defensive coordinator’s scheme. They’re studying the same scheme. They’re studying the guy that was the starter in front of them and now it’s their turn.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, whose teams are 6-2 against Palmer, doesn’t think the quarterback looks much different than he did with Cincinnati.
“He looks a lot like Carson,” Tomlin said. “He’s highly accurate, he’s very good in play-pass. He can turn his back to the defense and come up throwing. He has better mobility than people give him credit for. He’s a competitor. [I’ve] got a great deal of respect for Carson Palmer.”