Raiders starting quarterback Carson Palmer spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the 2011 season ended, saying he is "happy" to return to the Raiders and that they are close to being a "championship" team.
Palmer has kept a low profile since the season ended. On Wednesday, among other things, he finally addressed the firing of head coach Hue Jackson, the one who engineered a controversial midseason trade for Palmer, and myriad other topics.
"A lot of guys on the team were close with Hue, and good friends, and looked up to Hue in a lot of different ways," Palmer said in an interview with Sirius XM NFL Radio. "It's going to be different. It sounds like things are really changing in a lot of different areas and going in a number of different directions. So, it will be exciting, and this team will be ready to roll once the offseason kicks off in April."
Coaches aren't allowed to work with players until April 2, per the new collective bargaining agreement.
In the interim, Palmer said he intends to work out in Southern California with the wide receivers on the Raiders roster, as well as some of the tight ends and running backs, in the coming weeks.
Dennis Allen replaced Jackson, and owner Mark Davis hired Reggie McKenzie to be the general manager since the season ended in early January.
So much change has prompted some to paint 2012 as a rebuilding year for the Raiders. Palmer isn't buying into that thought
"As far as being close to a playoff team, it's more than that," Palmer said. "We're close to a championship team. There's a lot of work that needs to be put in and a lot of hurdles that we need to get over, but we need to be heading into this season thinking more than just playoffs."
The Raiders last made the playoffs in 2002. They finished 8-8 last season, missing out on a chance to win the AFC West by losing to the San Diego Chargers in the regular-season finale.
Jackson orchestrated a trade for Palmer two days after starter Jason Campbell suffered a season-ending collarbone injury.
The Raiders sent a 2012 first-round draft pick and a 2013 second-rounder to the Cincinnati Bengals for Palmer, who started the final nine games for the Raiders.
With Jackson gone, it was unclear whether the Raiders wanted to keep Palmer, of if Palmer even wanted to return.
Allen and McKenzie made it clear last month that Palmer is the unquestioned starter and that they want him back next season.
On Wednesday, Palmer said: "I don't want a change of scenery. I'm happy where I am."
As for the pressure associated with the bounty given up by the Raiders to acquire him, Palmer said he embraces the challenge of validating the trade.
"Absolutely, without a doubt ...," Palmer said of feeling the pressure. "With the trade and with all that's gone on throughout my career, I feel a tremendous amount of pressure and I love it. That's why I started playing quarterback at a young age, the ball's in your hands every single play."