Simplifying Russell's game

Lane Kiffin wants rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell to be better prepared when bad circumstances occur in games. To that end, the Raiders have been purposely allowing such situations to happen in practice this week in hopes of having Russell learn from them.

"We've really talked to him this week that the practice needs to be like the game," Kiffin said Wednesday. "You're the starter now. A guy's going to come free or a guy's going to miss an assignment somewhere and you can't, just because it's practice, sit there and just throw the ball. You gotta treat it like a game. We've gotta get you moving around because you haven't had all those reps the other starting quarterbacks have had over the course of years of playing and preseason and all of that. So we're trying to make these reps just like the game as much as we can, making things happen bad in practice so he has to deal with them at as close to full speed as we can get."

JaMarcus Russell, who will make his first NFL start this week against San Diego in the Raiders' season-finale, took all the reps in practice Wednesday after splitting time with Josh McCown last week. Projected to be Oakland's quarterback of the future, Russell spent most of the season as the team's No. 3 quarterback while playing sparingly in relief appearances against Denver and Indianapolis. He replaced McCown after two series against Jacksonville and completed his first two passes but struggled for much of the afternoon, finishing 7 of 23 for 83 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice and intercepted three times while earning a 17.4 rating.

"I was just trying to make things happen," Russell said Wednesday of his most extensive playing time. "You've just got to learn from that decision I made then that you can't always get away with it. As for myself, I try to make any and every throw because I feel like I'm confident and I can make that. But just looking back on it, there's time where I can just keep that down and get two or three yards and hold the ball for your team for the next drive or series."

Having an entire week's worth of practice as the starter should help, Russell said.

"It'll be a lot better, because to tell you the truth, last week with the reps I got in practice I didn't think I'd play the rest of the whole game like that," Russell said. "(Kiffin) told me I was going to go in the third series no matter what. I thought I was going to go in for a few series and come in and out, but I didn't think I was going to play (the rest of the game). He kind of put it on me like that but I've just got to be able to roll with it."

Kiffin he doesn't expect Russell's confidence to be damaged too much by his sub-par outing against the Jags, during which he made several ill-advised decisions on throws downfield. That's crucial heading into Sunday's game against the Chargers, who are still jockeying for playoff position.

"JaMarcus' personality doesn't really go into the tank," Kiffin said. "He stays pretty even. I think he's OK. At the same time he's not happy with how played. Don't mistake that for that. He is competitive so he definitely wants to go out and play better this week and hopefully having all week and playing at home and having more reps under his belt, that we'll play better around him as well as he'll play better.

"I talked to him about specific decisions and so forth immediately after the game on the bus afterwards, but then we talked again today. He's gotta carry over some things he did well and then not carry over the things he didn't."

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