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Palmer Suffers Torn ACL & MCL In Wild-Card Loss...
Carson Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee Sunday when he was tackled low on his first pass during Cincinnati's wild-card playoff loss to the Steelers.

"I knew right away it was bad," Palmer said. "I felt my whole knee pop. I didn't feel a lot of pain. It was just a sickening feeling, because I knew what it was and that my season was over."

Palmer is obviously out for the rest of the postseason, but Bengals.com online editor Geoff Hobson is reporting that team officials hope he'll be ready for the start of training camp.

"I've never had an injury this serious in my career," Palmer said. "I know it's going to be a long road back, but it's a long way until the next training camp.

"I feel bad for what happened, for our team and for our fans. But at the same time, I'm excited thinking about next year."

The injury ended a remarkable season for the second-year starter, who led the NFL with 32 touchdown passes and made his first Pro Bowl.

Palmer was on the field for only two plays today -- a handoff and then a deep pass down the right sideline to rookie Chris Henry. He stood in the pocket for an extra second, giving him time to complete a 66-yard pass - the longest completion in Bengals playoff history. Nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen hit Palmer's leg as he released the pass.

As Associated Press sports writer Joe Kay noted, Palmer wears a protective brace on the knee, but it still bowed inward. Palmer hit the ground and stayed down for several minutes while the medical staff looked at his knee. His face was downcast as he was carted off the field and taken inside for evaluation.

In losing Palmer, the Bengals were forced to go on without the player most responsible for their AFC North championship and their return to the playoffs.

Palmer set a club record with his 32 touchdown passes and completed 67.8 percent of his throws, also a league high, in only his second season as a starter. The club gave him a contract extension through 2014 a little more than a week ago.

He started all 16 games this season, but played sparingly in the final regular-season game at Kansas City because he was coming off a strained groin. Palmer hadn't taken many hard hits this season -- he was sacked no more than two times in any game.

While the team's hope for a quick return is understandable, getting Palmer back in time for training camp seems unrealistic.

Palmer will undergo reconstructive surgery as quickly as possible in order to expedite his return, but the procedure has yet to be scheduled and under the best of circumstances recovery time for those tearing both the ACL and MCL is nine months.

But it can obviously take longer. ...

Among those successfully returning from the same injuries would be Minnesota's Marcus Robinson and Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler.

Robinson, then with Chicago, blew out his ACL and MCL five games into the 2001 season. He returned to appear in all 16 games in 2002 season. Crumpler tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee as a collegian at North Carolina during spring practice in 1998, forcing him to miss that entire season.

On the other hand, Jason Sehorn of the Giants was never the same after tearing those same ligaments.

Stay tuned. ... I'll have more on Palmer -- including news on surgery and the team's timetable for his 2006 return -- in coming days. But no matter how you spin it, this isn't a positive development.