Colts work a deal to claim Palmer

Elkhart NFL player now close to home.
Posted on Sept. 24, 2012 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Sept. 24, 2012 at 6:32 p.m.

Nathan Palmer woke up this morning with the San Francisco 49ers.

He will go to sleep tonight as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

So much for a fun-filled week in Youngstown, Ohio.

Palmer, the Elkhart native and wide receiver who signed an NFL rookie free agent contract with the 49ers this summer and was a member of the team’s practice squad, was today picked up by the Colts.

The Central High School grad immediately joins the 53-man active roster for Indianapolis, which lost to Jacksonville 22-17 Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I’m pumped ... so pumped,’’ Palmer said Monday afternoon as he drove from Youngstown to Cleveland to catch a flight to Indianapolis. He planned to join a team meeting at 4 p.m. with the Colts and go through a team physical.

Since the Colts are in their bye week, Palmer will have nearly two weeks to get with Indianapolis position coaches and learn a new playbook.

Palmer became a target for the Colts after Austin Collie went down Sunday with a season-ending knee injury. The Colts, Palmer said, did show interest in him during the NFL Draft week and after the 49ers made their final cuts before the season.

The 49ers, who lost at Minnesota on Sunday, are spending this week in Ohio. They’ll play at the New York Jets on Sunday and then return to the West Coast.

Palmer’s parents were more than thrilled at the good news.

“My mom is a teacher in Elkhart and she screamed ... she said the class got real quiet,” Palmer said. His mother, Fern, is an instructor at Monger Elementary.

“With the group I had at the time, I had some explaining to do,” Fern Palmer said. “All I can say is God is good. He’s answered one of his prayers.

“And I love the Colts anyways ... they’re in Indiana.”

Palmer’s dad, Joe, actually feared the worst when told his son was “coming home.”

“I told him, ‘I’ve got a little bit of news for you ... I’ve got to go home,’” Nathan said. “My dad asked me what I was going to do now. He thought I got cut.”

After spreading the news to Elkhart, and to his Twitter following, Palmer had to say goodbye to his 49ers teammates, a task which is part business, part personal.

“I got to say goodbye to a lot of them, but they’re pretty scattered out here,” said Palmer, who was getting prepared for conditioning when his agent called early Monday with news of the deal.

“I was able to see the guys I was very close with, the practice squad guys. It’s like a real happy moment ... it’s like getting adopted,” Palmer said. “They were very happy for me.”

Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach, also had a chance to speak with Palmer, too. Harbaugh said the Colts’ quarterback, Andrew Luck, would elevate Palmer’s game.

Harbaugh would know — he coached Luck at Stanford.

“Coach said, ‘Tell (Luck) I said hello,’” Palmer said. “He said that Luck is the kind of quarterback who’ll help you develop you as a receiver. That meant a lot. That’s a man who’s coached him.”

Palmer also has a good vibe with the Colts’ third-string QB, Chandler Harnish. Palmer and Harnish played together for five seasons at Northern Illinois University.

“I talked to him, too,” Palmer said.

The Colts arranged to have a car for Palmer to drive from Cleveland to Indianapolis and the team also will help him get his belongings shipped from San Francisco.

“They’ll fly me out, I’ll get the rest of my belongings, but I really didn’t have much there,” Palmer said. “All I really had was clothes from the summer and I just bought a TV. My roommate will pack up the rest for me.”

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