The future is now

To steal a line from George Allen and apply it to the Raiders, the future is now for quarterback Andrew Walter.

Walter had his best game as a Raider in a 22-9 win over the Cardinals and appears to have seized the position in the absence of starter Aaron Brooks, who has been out since Week 2 with a torn pectoral muscle.

Coach Art Shell won't deal in "what if" scenarios, but said Walter is starting this week and indicated Brooks is a ways off from being able to pass. Shell has no intention of reversing whatever momentum the quarterback of the future gained with his first win as a starter.

Walter was on his way to a 300-yard passing day when forced to leave the game with a mild hamstring strain in the third quarter. He finished 17-for-30 for 263 yards and a touchdown, numbers that would have been better had it not been for at least five dropped passes.

In his second-year out of Arizona State, Walter is good at playing the diplomat. He may consider the job his own, but he'll never say it.

"Whatever the coach decides," Walter said. "If he does (make me the starter), I'm obviously for that. I want to play. Each week has gotten better and better. Just as long as the guy in there can give our team a chance to win. We got a win this week, now we have to go for two."

Beating the Cardinals was big for Walter because he so thoroughly outplayed Matt Leinart, a Heisman Trophy winner at USC who had beaten him twice in college. Not only that, but Leinart was available when the Raiders' turn came up at No. 7 in the first round of the draft.

Citing Walter's presence, the Raiders instead took Texas safety Michael Huff.

While Walter was surrounded by reporters Monday, center Adam Treu walked past, teasing the quarterback about the crowd, and shouting, "He's 1-0 against Leinart," as Walter managed an embarrassed grin.

Walter couldn't help but be a little envious of what Leinart had in college.

"I was always on the other side, watching him jumping around with coach (Pete) Carroll and toasting championships with champagne," Walter said. "We were always having our character built. The Bible says, 'Thou shalt not covet.' But it was tough."

When asked if he felt a sense of vindication, Walter said, "Vindication? I guess that's for you guys to discuss."

While Walter's stats and end result were dramatically better than anything he produced to date, Shell said he has seen steady progress.

"He's getting better each time out," Shell said. "He's growing. He's understanding where his receivers are going to be, where he needs to go with the ball. That's been a big plus. The more he plays, the better he'll be."

Walter is also earning points with his teammates, not only for how well he played against Arizona, but for how he handled the struggles of the previous weeks.

"You see him developing right before your eyes, not making as many mistakes as he was before," left guard Barry Sims said. "There's still stuff in there. It's not going to be perfect. But he's done a good job. He commands the huddle well. He's fun to be around and to be with."

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