Christmas is just over two months from now, and on that glistening morning when children open their Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles, they want to play with their toys now. NOW.

They don’t want to wait until after grandma opens her latest teapot, or mom finds that bird book under the tree that will make her talk about cardinals and blue jays far more than what’s tolerable to a reasonable human. Waiting is excruciating.

The Oakland Raiders had their Christmas morning yesterday, and there was just one expensive toy under the tree that was popular in 2006. But it’s theirs now, dammit, and they want to play with it in the living room right away. So tighten that chin strap, Carson Palmer, you’re in.

Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was coy with the media yesterday during a press conference following the blockbuster deal that sent Palmer to Oakland. Jackson laughed off the anticipated questions about the likelihood of Palmer starting this week, saying he’s “not going to let that cat out of the bag just yet.”

Maybe he should have passed that memo around to the rest of his staff. Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders spoke to an Oakland radio station Wednesday morning and said that Palmer would be starting this Sunday at home against the Chiefs “as long as he’s breathing.”

This is a surprise, but only a very mild one. Although it’s been widely reported that Palmer is in great shape, there’s reason to be leery about any quarterback who hasn’t played a snap of competitive football in nine months and is now being asked to win a football game with just five days of prep time, even if it is against a very tame Chiefs secondary.

Kyle Boller is little more than an emergency option at this point in his career as he was last week when Jason Campbell went down, so avoiding him at all costs is a very understandable approach. But Boller has been receiving plenty of practice reps in this offense as the backup quarterback all season, and he can easily function as a caretaker for one week. His primary activity would be handing the ball to Darren McFadden against a Kansas City run defense that’s giving up nearly 120 yards per game (21st), making this a game in which McFadden can easily shoulder the load offensively, and a game the Raiders should win with or without Palmer.

Most importantly, the Raiders have a Week 8 bye, which would give Palmer 19 days to prepare for his first start instead of five. But I suppose a breathing Palmer who hasn’t played since January is still better than a breathing Boller.

(Lead pic via News 10)

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