Culpepper making strides

Andrew Walter and Josh McCown continued to split reps with Oakland's starting offense Monday, but Daunte Culpepper is quickly closing the gap.

Daunte Culpepper, who is still trying to get caught up with the rest of the Raiders offense after signing a one-year contract on July 31, threw several long completions and even showed off some mobility on a few designed rollout plays.

"I felt really good being able to roll out of the pocket and make an accurate throw," Culpepper said. "That's what I wanted to see, if I can get out and do it against a defense in a live game and it felt good. It's a starting point."

At one point during a 1-on-1 drill between running backs and linebackers, Culpepper lofted a 40-yard throw downfield that just went over the head of linebacker Ricky Brown and landed in the arms of running back LaMont Jordan. Culpepper pumped his fist twice, then came back three plays later to make a similar completion to running back Joe Echemandu, who had beaten linebacker Jon Condo.

The Raiders haven't released their quarterback rotation for Saturday's preseason game against San Francisco and likely won't until coach Lane Kiffin returns to practice. Kiffin was hospitalized Monday with what team officials are calling a viral infection.

McCown started in Oakland's preseason win over Arizona and Walter replaced him after three series. Culpepper didn't play until midway through the second half.

The rotation could be the same against the 49ers, but Culpepper is making a push to make his way up the chain. During a two-minute team drill Monday, Culpepper engineered a touchdown drive highlighted by a nice completion to Johnnie Morant over cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha before a six-yard scoring throw to Johnnie Lee Higgins.

"It's going to make a tough decision for Kiff to see who is going to be the lead guy opening up against Detroit," receiver Jerry Porter said. "But it sure beats having three guys who don't know what the hell they're doing."

News and notes from Raiders' practice Monday:

* Safety Stuart Schweigert, who has been criticized in the past for his coverage skills, made the best defensive play of the day when he came flying in to break up a pass from Josh McCown intended for wide receiver Will Buchanon.

* During a 2-minute drill, Walter was faced with a fourth-and-five play but didn't even get a throw off. Instead, defensive end Kevin Huntley got to him and knocked the ball out of Walter's hand before the quarterback could get his feet set.

* Quentin Moses and Paul McQuistan got into a brief scuffle. Few punches were thrown before teammates stepped in to separate the two linemen.

* Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 57-yard field goal, his only try of the day, but the kick missed badly to the right, drawing groans from the sidelines where fans watching practice.

* During a lull in practice, Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess were playfully jawing back and forth to one another when Sapp dropped to the ground and started break dancing. Burgess couldn't help himself and broke up laughing.

* Wide receiver Carlos Francis attended practice but did not participate in any drills. Ironically, the Raiders had Francis holding a blocking bag and using it against receivers in one drill.

* Legendary coach Buddy Ryan, father of Raiders' defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, attended practice and watched from the sidelines. Fans whispered as Ryan walked by and one mentioned out loud the name of Kevin Gilbride, whom the elder Ryan punched in the head when both were assistants with the Houston Oilers on Jan. 2, 1994.

Ryan turned his head when he heard Gilbride's name and waved to the fan.

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