- Chris Mortensen, NFL reporter
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer insisted Monday that there is nothing wrong with his health or his arm in response to mounting questions from observers -- including team owner Mike Brown -- about his decline in production, especially after a 94-yard passing performance in Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Palmer, who bypassed the option of Tommy John surgery in 2008 to repair a ligament injury in his throwing elbow, has thrown just four touchdown passes in the past six games after throwing 13 in the first seven. He also had 30-plus passing attempts in five of his first seven games but has had none in the past four, leading to speculation about his arm again.
"My elbow is 101 percent," Palmer told ESPN. "My body is great. The Bengals are not protecting me. We went into a tough place [Minnesota] to play and laid an egg. We realize that as a team, an offense, a passing offense and we will bounce back in the passing game. There's nothing wrong with my arm and we're going to come out firing this week."
The Bengals, who play the Chargers in San Diego on Sunday, lead the AFC North with a 9-4 record. Palmer told ESPN recently that compiling gaudy statistics does not motivate him -- only making the playoffs and a Super Bowl are the primary objectives. Thus, as the Bengals have become a consistent running team with a much-improved defense, the one lagging part of the offense is the passing game.
Brown, the team's owner and general manager, made his own inquiry to the team's athletic trainers about Palmer's health, according to a team source. He was assured that Palmer was healthy and had not spent any time in treatment for his arm or any injury.
Even former Bengals receiver and TV analyst Cris Collinsworth asked, "What's wrong with Carson Palmer?"
Rather, Palmer's decline in production could be logically traced to wide receiver Chris Henry's season-ending injury in week nine. Even though Henry did not have a highly-anticipated breakout season, coaches and scouts said his deep-threat potential was still respected by opposing defenses and created space for other receivers.
Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.
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