Gannon, the reigning NFL MVP, will miss the rest of the season because the Raiders placed him on injured reserve Wednesday, meaning he cannot return even if he were healthy enough to do so.
Gannon tore the labrum in his right shoulder in a 17-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 20. There is no telling whether or not Gannon's injury is career-ending as the Raiders (2-7) are off to their worst start since 1964 entering Sunday's home game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Oakland put Gannon's replacement, Marques Tuiasosopo, on injured reserve last week after tearing a ligament in his knee. Gannon's absence means that No. 3 man Rick Mirer is the starter until further notice.
Mirer replaced the injured Tuiasosopo in a 23-13 loss to the Detroit Lions, completing 15-of-28 passes for 125 yards and two interceptions. Mirer performed much better in Oakland's 27-24 overtime loss to the New York Jets. He completed 18-of-25 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown.
"I felt better everyday during the week," Mirer said. "I need to get reps and get back into the action. Hopefully, I can build on that. I'd like to be efficient with the ball. For the first time in a long time, it felt good to be sore."
Added center Barret Robbins: "Rick was confident, calm and he's a real good leader in the huddle. He's going to give you 100 percent effort and he's going to know his game plan."
Gannon had been struggling before his injury in completing 125-of-225 passes for 1,274 yards, six touchdowns, and a completion percentage of 55.6 this season and a 73.5 quarterback rating. It is uncertain how soon Gannon could begin throwing but he may face an uncertain future in Oakland anyhow. Gannon is scheduled to make $7 million next season.
What is no longer uncertain, however, is Gannon's status for the balance of the 2003 season.
Mirer is now the latest Raider to get his extensive opportunity after a key player gets injured.
"We've got guys, and I'm one of them, that's been in reserve roles that have to be ready to go," Mirer said. "You're not going to be the other guy exactly but you're going to do the best you can to be who you are supposed to be and do your job correctly."
The question now becomes will the Raiders continue running the ball with similar frequency. Oakland ran the ball 53 times against the Jets, including 21 straight on one occasion.
"We were kind of playing on some weather too," Mirer said. "The run was a pretty good emphasis. It worked out good and we controlled the ball like we wanted to. We just need to generate more 7s instead of 3s. We're just going to keep march on. … It's never going to hurt you to establish a running game with high percentage passing. Hopefully, that's something we can build on."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com