Bush not moving to fullback

Contrary to several reports the Raiders have no intention of trying to convert Michael Bush to a full-time fullback. That point was made Tuesday by head coach Lane Kiffin, who emphatically shot down any notion of Bush switching positions.

"Michael Bush is a tailback here," Kiffin said following a two-hour practice. "We're going to look at some things in some certain personnels to utilize him because he catches the ball so well and he is a bigger tailback. But don't mistake that. Michael Bush isn't here to be a fullback. Michael Bush has a chance to be a spectacular tailback in this league and that's what he's here to play."

The loss of second-year fullback Oren O'Neal to a season-ending knee injury Saturday left the Raiders scrambling for a replacement. Bush, who is the biggest of Oakland's running backs, was given a look in practice Monday but wasn't too happy about it.

A day later he was back at running back while the Raiders moved to fill O'Neal's absence on the roster. They signed Luke Lawton, a free agent fullback who has played in 15 games over three seasons with the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. Kiffin also did not rule out bringing in another fullback once teams have made their roster cuts.

Kiffin also announced that Jake Grove would be the team's starting center after beating out John Wade for the job.

"He came out and took the job. He earned it, he didn't get it by default," Kiffin said. "I love the way that it went down as opposed to just being out here and not having competition. That competition pushed him when we signed him. That's two years in a row we've signed a center even though Jake's been here. I know that's made him better."

Grove missed most of last season while on injured reserve. He underwent microfracture knee surgery in January but missed all of Oakland's offseason workouts while recovering.

"It has made a big difference for me," Grove said. "I couldn't move right to left. I couldn't go to my left. I could go to my right, I just couldn't plant off my left. You can't tell the coach, 'Nah, let's just run right.' It doesn't work too good. Getting that thing fixed has been the biggest thing for me."

Kiffin said the team wanted to make sure Grove had fully recovered before making a decision. Once he proved that in training camp and carried it over to the preseason, the choice was an easy call.

"Before Jake got hurt he was playing well but he wasn't the same Jake that we see right now," Kiffin said. "He's much stronger, quicker."

· Sebastian Janikowski practiced for the first time in several weeks and is expected to handle the kicking duties for at least the first half of Friday's game in Seattle. The Raiders also released Aaron Elling, meaning backup punter Glenn Pakulak will be Janikowski's backup.

· Linebacker Robert Thomas injured his knee at the beginning of practice and was taken away for tests, though the results were still unknown as of Tuesday afternoon.

· Wide receiver Drisan James was released along with Elling.

· Javon Walker was excused from practice for personal reasons.

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