Carson Palmer understands the need to rest and rejuvenate, yet at the same time is looking forward to July 29.
That's when the Raiders report to the Napa Marriott for training camp, with the first practice the following day on the grounds of Redwood Middle School.
"I can't wait for camp," Palmer said Thursday as the Raiders wrapped up their mandatory minicamp. "We got a lot of good work in and you never know what to expect as you're coming out of the last minicamp after OTAs. I can't speak for everybody, but I'm definitely pleasantly surprised with where we are."
A year ago Palmer was involved in a stalemate with the Cincinnati Bengals, who seemed willing to let him retire rather than grant his request for a trade.
He came to the Raiders in a whirlwind sequence after the death of owner Al Davis that included a broken collarbone to Jason Campbell, a controversial in-season trade to the Raiders and attempting to both get in shape and learn a new system on the fly.
This time around, Palmer is not only clearly the leader of the Raiders offense, but is stimulated with a new system which has him pushing his game to new limits and requiring him to show he can do more than simply drop back and show off one of the NFL's best throwing arms.
"He's got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He wants to prove he still belong sin this league and can play at an elite level. As with everything else
In throwing 13 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions in 10 games (nine starts) a year ago, Palmer is adjusting from a dropback passing offense favored by Hue Jackson to a system heavy on bootlegs and rollouts. It's the kind of offense some wondered if Palmer was still capable of running since a serious 2006 knee injury.
The early returns have been positive, to both the naked eye, the Raiders coaches, and to Palmer himself. Combined with a zone running scheme, the moving pocket can make for a diverse and dangerous offense.
"It's a completely new offense, there's really no similarities to anything I've done before, but I love all the boots and play-actions and nakeds and keepers," Palmer said. "I'm excited to do that and really all those things are going to help the running game, and the more the running game moves the chains, the better everyone else is on the entire team."
When Palmer arrived last season, he thrust himself into a leadership role by virtue of his position, and it made for some awkwardness in that many offensive players considered Campbell their leader.
This season, with Campbell having signed with the Chicago Bears, Palmer is the undisputed leader. He's already spent time during the offseason with some of his receivers in Southern California and he'll continue to do so before July 29.
Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp can see the offense reacting to Palmer and leaning on him for advice and counsel.
"He's a good crutch for me to lean on because he does such a good job of mentoring the young players," Knapp said. "He takes the time to be patient with them and explain ... little nuggets of knowledge that he has gone through in game experience that is invaluable to new players."