Culpepper ready to be annointed?

It's looking more and more as if Daunte Culpepper will be the Raiders' starting quarterback when the regular season begins.

Since arriving late in camp, Daunte Culpepper has outplayed Josh McCown and Andrew Walter. On Tuesday, the veteran grabbed first reps with Oakland's starting offense, too.

Head coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't divulge his quarterback rotation for Friday's preseason game against St. Louis, saying he'll make an announcement on Wednesday. But with Culpepper's progress over the last two weeks, it's hard to imagine it would be anyone else.

Culpepper not only has the strongest arm of the three, he's also the most experienced. He's also answered questions about his mobility after missing much of last season due to knee problems. Culpepper showed no limitations against San Francisco last week and made one nice run on a third-down play in which he juked one defender, cut back and scampered 13 yards for a first down.

The biggest concern for Kiffin has been Culpepper's knowledge of the playbook. While both McCown and Walter have been with the team since the offseason, Culpepper didn't arrive until the final week of June and has been playing catch-up ever since.

In team scrimmages, Kiffin said the Raiders were limited to what plays they could call for Culpepper. Not anymore.

"We actually gameplanned this week, so he does not have available to him our whole playbook; he has available what everybody else has, which is only what we've put in for this week," Kiffin said.

"In training camp mode in the first two games we did not gameplan so we had our whole playbook available, so it's actually less is available this week so it makes it easier for a guy to hone in just as it would during a regular season game."

Oakland also continues to wait on holdout first-round draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who has been at a contract impasse for weeks now. Neither side has reported much progress and it's all but certain that when and if Russell signs, he'll be destined to spend the entire season on the bench.


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