Walter to start for Oakland by default

Can a backup quarterback who completes 37 percent of his passes, fumbles three times, throws three interceptions and records a quarterback rating of 18.4 percent be a starter in the NFL?

He can if his name is Andrew Walter and he plays for the Oakland Raiders.

Coach Art Shell gave starter Aaron Brooks a vote of confidence following a 28-6 loss Sunday to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, but it came with a route of escape in the form of a Brooks injury.

"Andrew will have every opportunity to be the guy," owner Al Davis said.

In a nightmarish start, Brooks fumbled his first two snaps from center. The first resulted in a Ravens field goal. On the second, Brooks tried to recover the fumble and ended up with a strained rotator cuff.

Brooks had an MRI to determine the extent of the damage and he will miss two to four weeks.

The injury gives the Raiders the opportunity to give Walter a chance to play against Cleveland -- and possibly the San Francisco 49ers the following week -- without publicly demoting Brooks.

Shell has made it clear already that his policy on injuries is to err on the side of caution, and rotator cuff strains are not to be treated lightly -- especially when playing on a team which has given up 15 sacks in two games.

Oakland failed to score a touchdown in back-to-back games to open the season for the first time since 1961.

Walter made some nice throws in the face of a fierce pass rush and seemed to have the support his teammates and led the Raiders to their only six points of the season.

The Raiders have made it clear that Walter, who supplanted long-time backup Marques Tuiasosopo this season, is their quarterback of the future.

Brooks' contract is for two years, and contains a March signing bonus which would make him a free agent should the Raiders decline to pay.

With Brooks delivering zero points in Week 1 against San Diego and failing to receive two center snaps in Week 2, Walter has represented an upgrade in each of the two games he replaced the starter.

Against the Ravens, Walter completed 10 of 27 passes for 162 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He lost one of his three fumbles.

"He did some decent things. He did some things that were not so good," Shell said.

Said Walter: "The No. 1 job is to protect the football. It's unacceptable. It kills drives and it kills the team."

The same could be said for Brooks.

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