ALAMEDA -- With no sign of running back Darren McFadden as warm-ups and drills concluded Wednesday, the Raiders will rely more than ever on quarterback Carson Palmer.
Considering the next opponent is the Baltimore Ravens, it could be worse.
Palmer was 9-4 as a starter for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Ravens from 2004 through 2010, including a 4-3 record at M&T Bank Stadium, a place where Baltimore has won 22 of its last 23 games.
"I don't fear any quarterback, but I'm always worried when I play Carson Palmer," Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said Wednesday by conference call. "We came from the draft class. We played him at USC when I was at Arizona State, so this guy's kind of tortured me through all my college and professional career.''
With McFadden struggling and in the lineup, the Raiders have become a pass-first team through necessity.
Neither McFadden nor backup running back Mike Goodson were on the practice field as team sessions began, so another 50-plus pass attempts against Baltimore is within the realm of possibility.
Palmer has 2,355 yards passing at the midway point of the season, a pace that would give him a franchise record of 4,710 yards in 16 games. That's more than Rich Gannon's 4,789 yards in 2002, the year he won the Most Valuable Player award.
With 13 touchdown passes at the midway point, he's on pace for Gannon's 26 touchdown passes as well.
And while Palmer has been
The Falcons' Asante Samuel had a 79-yard interception return in the fourth quarter when the Raiders were poised to take the lead, although they later came back and tied the game anyway.
Against the Bucs, Palmer had the Raiders within 35-32 after trailing 28-10 and 35-17, but threw an interception to Ahmad Black that appeared to be headed toward Denarius Moore.
Coach Dennis Allen found himself defending Palmer at his Monday news conference, and some of the more radical elements of the Raider fan base would like to see No. 3 quarterback Terrelle Pryor, inactive for the first eight weeks.
"I'm not going to sit here and put the blame on Carson Palmer,'' Allen said. "I think he's operated exceptionally well for us. He's one of the big reasons we've been able to win the games we've been able to win. He's a huge part of our offense.
"He feels as bad as anybody about the negative plays he had in the game.''
Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters in Baltimore Palmer looks much the same as he did with the Bengals when he was beating the Ravens.
"Some of the same things he did in Cincinnati, he's doing now,'' Harbaugh said. "There's not a throw he can't make, and when he's on, he's on time. He can really stick it in tight windows. He's a fearless competitor. You watch him play with a tremendous enthusiasm out there. We've got a lot of respect for Carson Palmer.''
The Raiders did not bring in any running backs to visit Tuesday, only defensive tackle Jason Shirley.
Their options if McFadden and Goodson are out include second-year running back Taiwan Jones, using fullback Marcel Reece as a running back, and promoting practice squad running back Jeremy Stewart.
Also back at practice was defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, who was hospitalized with an accelerated heartbeat following the Tampa Bay game.