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Parents await Palmer's pass through town

All week, Bill Palmer puts together big deals as a senior vice president for John Hancock. On the weekends, he and his wife Dana travel from their Boston home to destinations around the country to watch their sons play quarterback -- Carson for the Cincinnati Bengals and Jordan (known as J.P.) for Texas El-Paso.

There will be no frequent flyer points this Sunday, though, as Carson Palmer comes to town to face the 11-1 Patriots in Foxborough. The Palmers will watch from the John Hancock luxury box at Gillette Stadium, rooting for the guy who was named AFC Offensive Player of the week after putting up 24 fourth-quarter points in a 27-26 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

"I've been looking forward to it for a long time," said Bill Palmer, "particularly after the preseason game [a 31-3 Patriots loss to the Bengals]. I've been to a lot of Bengals games. We go to all of J.P.'s games in El Paso, just as we did at USC when Carson was going there.

"But in a typical weekend, we do both. J.P.'s season is over until the bowl [Houston Bowl Dec. 29], so we have a break in the action. The fall has always been very hectic, but it's very enjoyable."

Imagine the pride Bill must feel having a Heisman Trophy-winning son playing well in his second year in the NFL (his first season as a starter) and another son showing so much promise as a sophomore for a bowl-bound 8-3 team. J.P. has both his older brother's size (6 feet 5 inches, 230 pounds) and arm strength.

"When you see them together, even though Carson is five years older, they look like identical twins," said the father. "If you watched them drop back in slow motion, it would be difficult to set them apart.

"Obviously, Carson is a gifted player who has the benefit of having a lot more experience, but Jordan ran track and he's quite an athlete and he's picked up the college game very well. It's a source of pride to watch both of them grow up and reach their potential as people and athletes."

Palmer said more than a year ago that he hoped Carson would be able to spend a season learning under Jon Kitna, because the expectations and pressures on a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in the draft are so high. Palmer got his wish when Bengals coach Marvin Lewis elected to go with Kitna.

"I think it worked out beautifully," said Bill. "Carson got to watch and see how Jon handled things. He was amazed at all of the things he had to do as the starting quarterback to prepare for a game in the NFL. By the time Carson was given his opportunity, he seemed ready for it." Bill Palmer, a Californian, started working in Boston in April of 2003 after his career had taken him to New York for a couple of years. He was commuting coast-to-coast to Laguna Niguel, Calif., where both sons were star players in high school. Surgery last September slowed him a bit, but his wife made all the trips, and they're both back into their travel routine.

Carson Palmer and his wife, Shaelyn, spent a few days in Boston this summer, so this will not be his first trip here. He'll arrive after a memorable two-week stretch in which he threw seven touchdown passes, including four against the Browns in a 58-48 win Nov. 28.

Bill Palmer knows his son will be entering a hornet's nest in Bill Belichick's defense, but facing the Ravens' blitzes last Sunday -- and picking them up well -- was good practice.

"Carson is well aware of what he's coming into," said Bill. "He knows the preseason was just that. He knows the Patriots weren't showing him a lot and he knows how much they can confuse quarterbacks with their different looks."

Carson has engineered three comeback wins in his 12-game career. He completed 10 of 13 attempts during the fourth-quarter rally against Baltimore (two incompletions were spikes to stop the clock).

Bill Palmer knows his son won't be afraid to throw the ball down the field or try to fit it in to make a play. Carson went right after Denver's Champ Bailey this year and burned him for two touchdowns. He has a strong arm and he's mobile.

Bill said he's been kidded by coworkers who say the Palmers are like the Manning family. "Yeah," he responds, "but I was a better player than Archie. Just kidding."

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