Russell getting back in the saddle

People like to talk about the quarterback position and the media got its first chance to talk with quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Although coach Les Miles hasn't actually came right out and said ‘Russell is No. 1,' it is obvious the junior signal caller from Mobile, Ala. is primed to resume control of the LSU offense.

After undergoing surgery on his right throwing wrist and months of rehab and a slow climb back to health, Russell said it was good to be back out on the field. However, he said it did feel a bit odd after such a long layoff, a layoff in which Russell did not participate in spring drills, only passing drills throughout the summer.


"It has been a while since I have been in the fire like that, since, like December," Russell said after Monday's morning practice. "For my first day out, I thought I did a pretty good job. As a team, we did an okay job, but we need to get better."


Russell said it will take a period of adjustment but he grew more comfortable as the practice session progressed.


"You could say that," Russell said. "It has been a while for me. So I have to get back in the rhythm of how things are going. It will take a lot of practice time for me. But that is why we come to summer camp.


"I will get better throughout the course of the year. By the time September gets here, we will be in better shape than we are now."


Speaking of shape, there are lots of rumors circulating about Russell's weight and that he reported out of shape. Miles said Russell is breaking all sorts of team records in the weight room. And although Russell admitted to gaining 20 pounds while recovering from his surgery, he says he has lost most of that weight and is getting close to what he feels is a suitable playing size.


"Right now, I weighed in today at 258," Russell said. "I want to be somewhere below 255. I weighed 252 last year. Due to my injury, I gained close to 20 pounds by the end of last year."


And amid those rumors are also those people saying Flynn or Perrilloux should be the No. 1 guy. Russell said he knows about the rumors and is aware some fans may think he shouldn't be the starter, but he said he can't let that bother him.


"You can say that (it's unfair) because people are going to say what they want to anyway," Russell said. "Like we say, we are teammates. I am happy for them when they get their chance just like I did. Whoever coach decides to go with I am with it."


Russell was third in the SEC in passing efficiency a year ago and led the Tigers to 10 victories, three games in which LSU won in the fourth quarter or overtime and currently stands at 14-2 as a starter. However, Russell said he is now happy to be healthy so he can prove that he deserves to be the starter.


"It gives me some motivation," Russell said. "I played all season last year hurt, nicked and bruised. Just think what I could have done without them (the injuries). Probably a little bit better. I think I will be able to do better this season."


Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher talked earlier this summer about fans not knowing the extent of pain Russell played in last year. Fisher said he hardly practiced during game weeks and received shots in his wrist prior to game time just so he could play.


Russell said he would get caught up in the course of a game and forget about the pain in his wrist. However, when hitting the ground would jog his memory though


"Mostly when I fell on it," Russell said. "Not necessarily every time I threw, but mostly a lot toward the end (of the season). Especially when I fell on it though. You don't think about it hurting all the time because you are at full speed."


Any pain now?


"No, not so much," Russell said. "Just sometimes when I throw too much my wrist will get tired."


At SEC Media Days two weeks ago, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said Russell was throwing the ball 75 yards in the air while kneeling on my knee earlier in the summer. Russell humbly corrected his teammate's comments with a sly grin.


"Not that far," Russell laughed. "Probably almost 60."

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