Russell to start for Raiders?

A sore right quadriceps muscle prevented Daunte Culpepper from taking part in the Raiders' entire practice Thursday. Josh McCown has stitches in his left hand after dislocating two joints in his pinky a day earlier. Could that mean JaMarcus Russell will start Sunday's game against Denver

? Not likely but that didn't stop speculation from heating up.

Culpepper believes he was injured sometime during the Raiders' 20-17 win over Kansas City last week. He originally shrugged it off as the normal aches and pains that come at this point of the season and applied an ice bag but awoke Thursday in considerable discomfort.

The Raiders opted to let Culpepper take part in some practice drills but had McCown and Russell also take reps with the first team offense. The team is hopeful Culpepper will be able to start against the Broncos but are taking a cautious approach.

"What does that mean? I don't know yet," Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said. "He did some stuff today so well see what he can do tomorrow."

The Raiders didn't reveal McCown's injury during Kiffin's daily meeting with reporters and it wasn't until the quarterback walked into the team's locker room with a bag of ice wrapped around his left hand that the extent of it became known.

According to McCown, he and Andrew Walter were playing catch during practice yesterday when a throw from Walter jammed McCown's left pinky. McCown initially shook it off but noticed blood trickling from his hand then saw the bone from his finger protruding through the skin.

The good news for McCown is that the injury occurred to his non-throwing hand.

"It's just par for the course this year," lamented McCown, who has had an assortment of hand and feet injuries this season.

Russell has been taking minimal reps with Oakland's starting offense for the past few weeks, and while he might have taken some additional work due to Culpepper's injury, Kiffin says it's still undecided whether the heralded rookie will serve as the team's No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback against Denver.

"We're still looking at some things with him," Kiffin said. "He took some reps today and did well. He moved around well and did some things well."

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