Attention turning back to Russell

Lane Kiffin is sticking with Josh McCown as the Raiders' starting quarterback, but Oakland's head coach isn't certain who will be McCown's backup. Asked on Wednesday if that might be JaMarcus Russell, Kiffin played coy.

"There's a chance," Kiffin said, offering no other details about the situation.

In fact, Kiffin's only other comment about Russell and his chance of being elevated to the No. 2 spot ahead of Daunte Culpepper was a vague reference to the team "working with him every day."

Whether any of that means Russell will get a chance to play against Chicago on Sunday remains to be seen. But the fact that Kiffin did not endorse Culpepper as the back-up -- at least not yet -- certainly leaves the impression that the Raiders are moving closer to getting their prized first-round draft pick onto the field for the first time this season.

During Oakland's loss to Houston last week, Kiffin admitted he thought about putting Russell into the game after the Raiders fell behind 14-0. McCown, who was making his first start since injuring his foot in Week 3, remained in the game and went on to finish with three interceptions and one touchdown.

But the head coach has also hedged at times regarding Russell, saying he didn't want to jeopardize the rookie's confidence if he were to play and other factors -- a lack of pass protection, for example -- were to affect his performance.

Russell shrugged off the notion that his confidence might suffer, however.

"In high school, my coach always told me to stay on an even keel," Russell said Wednesday. "No matter what, never take the game too big or take it too small. Anything that happens, always be even or level headed. I've kind of been like that for a long time. If it was to happen like that I think I'd be OK, just knowing what's needed to be done."

Russell also insisted he's happy with how the Raiders have brought him along, even though he's anxious to play.

"Very anxious," he said. "But I have to wait my turn. No matter what, whatever coach has in mind for the team I'm here for that. I'm a team player, not selfish."


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