Let the great debate begin: Raiders switch QB

The Raiders made it official on Wednesday and named Marques Tuiasosopo as their starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Jets, putting Kerry Collins' future in Oakland in doubt.

Collins played well early in the season when he threw just one interception in the Raiders' first six games. Over the last four games, however, Collins and Oakland's offense have regressed, with the quarterback throwing seven interceptions while leading the team to just one win since Halloween.

While head coach Norv Turner said the move was made, in part, to spark the struggling offense, he acknowledged the Raiders need to get a better evaluation of Tuiasosopo, their second-round draft pick in 2001.

''It's not to me, this decision, based on because Kerry hasn't performed as well as I'd like,'' Turner said. ''There's things he knows he can do better, things I know he can do better. We need to see Tui play. Where we are right now in terms of the things we're doing best on offense and where we're struggling, I think Tui can help us there with his movement.

''I don't see it as an audition. We're getting Tui ready to go try to get ourselves turned around and go win a football game. We've got a quarter of a season left. We've got four games. A lot can be accomplished for everyone, and, hopefully, Tui can help us and help some of the other guys get some of the things done they want to get done.''

For Tuiasosopo the chance to start against the Jets will be just the second of his NFL career. His previous start came in 2003 against the Detroit Lions when he suffered a season-ending knee injury just before halftime.

''It means a lot,'' Tuiasosopo said. ''I am excited to get out and play and, with the rest of these guys in the locker room, find a way to win a ballgame this week. That's what I am most excited about.''

Collins, who has the third-most passing yards in the NFL this season, was understandably miffed by the switch.

''I'm not happy about it,'' said Collins, who will be Oakland's No. 2 quarterback against the Jets. ''I feel like this is my team. I feel like I give us the best chance to win Sunday. I put a lot into this. I put a lot of time and effort (in). I'm disappointed with the decision. Having said that, I respect what Norv decided to do and I'll help Tui any way I can.

''Obviously if we were sitting here with a better record I don't think this would be considered. But that's what it is right now. Like I said, I'm disappointed and I don't agree with it but it's (Turner's) decision and I'll go with it.''

Tuiasosopo can become a free agent in 2007 so the Raiders say they want to use the

last four games of the regular season to see if he fits into their future plans. With Collins due to get a significant raise in 2006 -- going from the veteran's minimum this season to some nearly $13 million next year -- how well Tuiasosopo does in the coming weeks could also determine whether Collins is back in an Oakland uniform next year.

''I am going to just go out and play and hopefully my play will do all the talking,'' Tuiasosopo said. ''I am not worried about the future now. I am worried about this weekend and getting ready and helping this team by having the best chance of winning ... I am about how I prepare and making sure they can count on me.''

NOTES

* Center Adam Treu continued to work with the starting offense while Jake Grove handled most of the reps at left guard.

* With fullback John Paul Foschi (foot) still unable to practice, the Raiders signed Zach Tuiasosopo to their practice squad. Tuiasosopo is the younger brother of Oakland's quarterback.

* Defensive tackle Ted Washington was unable to finish practice due to a bruised quad muscle suffered in the loss to San Diego.


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