Oakland, Calif. Jason Campbell’s broken collarbone easily could have derailed what appeared to be a promising season for the Oakland Raiders.
Instead of putting his team’s hopes on the arm of backup Kyle Boller, coach Hue Jackson responded boldly and sacrificed some of the future to bring in a quarterback with a much more impressive pedigree in Carson Palmer.
The move shocked many around the NFL and sent a clear message to Jackson’s locker room that he truly does believe in his mantra that “the time is now.”
The answer to whether the deal to send a 2012 first-round pick and a second-rounder in 2013 that could become another first if the Raiders make it to the AFC title game in one of the next two years will pay off won’t come for a little bit.
But the first test is today when the Raiders (4-2) host the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) in their final game before their bye.
Jackson did not commit to a starter during the week, as Palmer and Boller shared first-team snaps in practice. There’s a chance both could play Sunday.
After spending training camp, the preseason and the first six weeks of the regular season in retirement in Southern California, Palmer has had to rush his way back into playing form.
Oakland is counting on Palmer to carry on from where Campbell left off before getting hurt last week against Cleveland. After eight straight years without a winning record, the Raiders finally appear to have turned the corner behind Darren McFadden’s running, speedy, big-play receivers on the outside and an improving defense that has done a better job stopping the run the past two weeks.
That’s why Jackson was willing to pay such a high price to get Palmer, the quarterback he believed could lead the Raiders back to the playoffs for the first time since winning the AFC championship in 2002.
“It just shows you that Hue definitely wants to win,” receiver Jacoby Ford said. “He’s going to put us in the right position to win and he’s going to bring the right guys in to win. He’s competitive. We’re all behind him as far as being competitive.”
While the Raiders are adjusting to life without their starting quarterback, the Chiefs have had plenty of practice so far this season with dealing with serious to significant players.
They lost tight end Tony Moeaki in preseason, Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in the season opener and All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2 to season-ending knee injuries.
The Chiefs are preparing for both Palmer and Boller but know that the key to the Oakland offense remains a running game that has averaged 168.2 yards rushing per game against Kansas City the last three years.