How long will Collins get to right the ship?

There's no doubt that quarterback Kerry Collins has struggled mightily in the three-and-a-half games he has played since replacing the injured Rich Gannon. The question is – how much of a chance will Collins get to redeem himself?

If it were up to Oakland Raiders fans, Collins would not be in the lineup for Sunday's home game against the New Orleans Saints in Oakland in a matchup that features a pair of teams with 2-4 records.

"I just keep doing what I believe in doing and preparing the way I believe in preparing and maintaining focus on what we're doing to try to get better," Collins said. "I've always come out of it and I expect to come out of this. It's tough but you have to put the blinders on and focus on hat you think is the right way to do things."

As the second half of the Raiders 31-3 loss to the Denver Broncos got uglier, fans started chanting "Tui! Tui!" – as in Marques Tuiasosopo. Those some fans also gave Collins a cascade of boos.

Collins is known as being a feast or famine quarterback but so far it is the latter. Collins, who led the New York Giants to the 2001 Super Bowl, has completed 80 of 140 passes, thrown for only two touchdowns and been picked off eight times for a dismal quarterback rating of 55.8 in 3 1/2 games since Gannon broke a vertebra in his neck Sept. 26. Despite those struggles and treatment from Raiders fans, Collins is outwardly putting on a brave front.

"My confidence is fine," Collins said. "It always will be. I've played a lot of football. I've gone through a lot of these things and have fought through them and I plan on fighting through this one."

Tuiasosopo replaced Gannon, whose season ended after sustaining a shoulder injury in a 17-10 loss to Kansas City. The Raiders selected Tuiasosopo in the second round of the 2001. That would have seemed like a good time for Oakland to get an extended look at Tuiasosopo, who started the next game but sustained a season-ending knee injury in a 23-13 loss at Detroit. The reason behind the Raiders signing Collins after the Giants released was that Oakland would have an experienced safety net in case Gannon got injured.

So far, however, Collins' acquisition is not paying dividends. The Raiders need that to be the case as the 2004 season is looking eerily similar to last year's 4-12 disaster, minus the mutinous locker-room but who is to say that situation will not happen.

The question is – how much leeway do the Raiders give Collins? Since they are counting on him, the Raiders figure to give him every opportunity to get it right. If Collins continues to struggle, however, against New Orleans on Sunday, then what would be the harm putting in Tuiasosopo?

"There's a lot of outside factors," Tuiasosopo said. "My whole stance is to stay focused."

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at

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