|Bengals coach Marvin Lewis picked QB Carson Palmer with his first draft selection as a head coach. Lewis is downplaying Palmer's return this week for the first time since demanding a trade. (AP Images)|
The week of Carson Palmer's return commenced Monday, but Marvin Lewis jumped on the topic early before the media could reach him or his players.
He pointed out in a meeting with the team that 28 of the team's current 53 players never played with the franchise leader in single-season passing yards who will return Sunday with his Oakland Raiders .
“That tells you how quickly things change in the NFL,” Lewis said.
Headlines all week will revolve around Palmer's return as the player who demanded be traded or retire during the 2011 offseason. Palmer reportedly once said he'd never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again with the Bengals, but will do just that wearing silver and black.
Media will circle like rabid dogs, but Lewis doesn't differentiate between Palmer and any other former player lining up on the opposite side of the field.
“Just like any other player who was here,” Lewis said. “Now he's not here so our job is to beat the Oakland Raiders and Carson Palmer come Sunday. That's part of what we're here for.”
Oddly, the player who will always be compared to Palmer around Cincinnati won't hold his first conversation with him until Sunday. Andy Dalton entered as Palmer exited and never spent a practice, workout or film session with the team's starting quarterback from 2004-10.
He's used to questions about Palmer but feeling any extra motivation for this game won't emanate from him. Oakland's No. 3 will only be another faceless opponent.
“It's just another week," Dalton said. "Obviously, Carson played here for a long time. He was around Cincinnati for a while ... we won't be focused on it. We will make sure it doesn't become a distraction.”
Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSBengals.