Palmer makes return trip to NY for his debut

Joe Kay and Joe Kay

Carson Palmer’s first NFL moments came in New York, where he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the commissioner and held up a Cincinnati Bengals jersey on draft day.Seventeen months later, he’s headed back to the big city for his first moments as an NFL quarterback.Yes, it’s been that long.The Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick hasn’t done much more than stand around and wear a Cincinnati Bengals baseball cap — much like the one he donned on draft day 2003 — during his career.He finally gets to be a quarterback Sunday against the Jets, facing off against another young quarterback playing an NFL opener for the first time as well.How’s Palmer handling it? With California cool.”Right now, I’m just working on the game plan,” the former Southern Cal star said Wednesday, in a laid-back tone that made it sound like just another day. “I’ll wait for those feelings to catch up to me once I get to New York.”We’re so far out, it seems, and have so much to do before we get to that point. Those emotions and feelings can wait.”No surprise. Palmer’s teammates have become accustomed to his easygoing personality, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a quarterback.”Carson is always Carson,” receiver Chad Johnson said Wednesday. “He doesn’t change much. But he has to stay the same, no matter what. If he gets rattled, everyone else around him will get rattled. He’s cool.”He’s been that way since the day he arrived and slipped unceremoniously into the yearlong backup role. The challenge is to stay that way Sunday in New York, where everyone will be watching closely to see how the kid handles pro pressure for the first time.Pressure?”I’ll be fine,” Palmer said assuredly. “I’m used to pressure. I’m expecting it. I’m feeling it already. I’ve been feeling it all year long. I’ll be fine.”That’s easy to say, harder to do. Chad Pennington knows all about it.The Jets quarterback was relegated to a backup role his first two seasons, finally starting in the fifth game of his third season. It was difficult to keep calm that day against Kansas City.”There are a lot of emotions going through you,” Pennington said Wednesday during a conference call. “I was so excited that I wanted to play linebacker; I didn’t really want to play quarterback. You get so excited, having the chance to play.”But as a quarterback, you also have to understand that you have to harbor some of those emotions. You have to remain calm and make sure that you channel some of that emotion in the right direction.”Pennington has some extra feelings this week as well. It’s the first time he’s started a season opener, and his coach expects him to be feeling the moment.”I’m just hoping he doesn’t have the same helium in him as those balloons that they let off on opening day,” coach Herman Edwards said. “I hope he’s calm, and we’ve got to try to keep him calm. But that’s opening day. They’re all going to have butterflies.”Palmer will have one thing going for him. Center Rich Braham, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last week, is expected to start. Braham helps adjust the blocking schemes at the line, giving Palmer a better chance to avoid getting blind-sided.”He points things out and I point things out,” said Braham, an 11th-year veteran. “A lot of times we come up to the ball and they’re in one look (on the defense). Then I get down and they’re in a different look. So you make one call and a second later, it’s something else.”Palmer did a smooth job running the offense in the preseason against simple defensive schemes. He even predicted a touchdown pass on one play, and delivered. That’s about as wild as he gets in the huddle.Whatever he feels on the field Sunday, he’ll keep to himself.”His play is going to do his talking for him, because he’s not that verbal,” Johnson said.