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Can Carson Palmer Find His Secondary Targets?

One thing I noticed about Carson Palmer last year was he forced the ball to Chad Johnson entirely too much. It was a big reason he was not as productive as he had been in the past. Some argued this was because Johnson was his only legitimate target. Laveranues Coles was a disappointment, and Chris Henry was injured before his tragic death. This year Palmer has Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley, and Jermaine Gresham. His numbers aren't any better aside from the counting ones, which are up because the team is throwing more.

He still isn't spreading the ball around. Owens and Johnson are seeing most of his throws. Owens has 116 targets. Johnson has 95. Palmer also has a pair of excellent rookies, slot receiver Jordan Shipley and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Shipley only has 49 targets. Gresham has 63.

Compare that with the way the Jets are spreading the ball around. Dustin Keller has 67 targets. Braylon Edwards has 63. Jerricho Cotchery has 60. LaDainian Tomlinson has 63. Santonio Holmes has 49 (albeit after missing four games). This is a more balanced passing game.

Shipley and Gresham have been productive. Shipley has 35 catches and 480 yards. Gresham has 42 catches for 330 yards. In other words, Shipley is catching over 70% of balls thrown to him, and Gresham is at an even two-thirds. Palmer doesn't look in their directions.

This is something to watch Thursday night. The Jets have Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, a pair capable of eliminating Palmer's two favorite targets. They are weaker in coverage at the nickel and particularly at safety, where Shipley and Gresham will have the edge. Can Palmer go through his progressions? If he does, unlike last year against the Jets, he might give his team a chance to do some damage.