Cutler can relate to Russell

Jay Cutler has a pretty good idea of what JaMarcus Russell will go through as the Raiders' full-time starting quarterback. It was only a year ago that Cutler went through the same thing in Denver while taking over the reigns of the Broncos offense. His advice to Oakland's young QB? Be prepared for anything and everything.

"You don't really know what you're seeing," Cutler said Wednesday. "You're trying to figure out your offense and where your guys are going to be. Sometimes you know what the defense is doing, sometimes you don't. It's difficult.

"As the year goes on you get more comfortable with defenses and seeing things, but those first five or six games you're to get to the game, limit turnovers and do your job."

Like Russell, Cutler was a high draft pick (11th overall) who was brought along slowly during his first year in the NFL and didn't get playing time until late in the season. Cutler started five games as a rookie while Russell played in four and started one.

When he stepped in to take over Denver's offense Cutler replaced an ineffective veteran, Jake Plummer. As he assumes control in Oakland, Russell replaces a pair of them in Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper.

Both men also rely heavily on their team's running game to keep defenses off them. That's particularly true with Russell and the Raiders.

"If they can't get the running game going it's going to make a long day for him," Cutler said. "Probably the (Oakland) coaches are going to keep things basic, try to run the ball and get eight in the box so he gets some one-on-ones outside. And he's going to see some blitzes that he's not accustomed to seeing because teams are going to test him, see if he's on his stuff protection-wise. It's a learning process. There's a learning curve and you have to go through it to be successful."

Last season Cutler passed for 3,497 yards and completed 63.6 percent of his throws while tossing 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. But the Broncos finished 7-9, their first losing record since 1999. Cutler looked very mediocre in two games against the Raiders, completing 39 of 65 passes but for only 483 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.

The plan for Oakland this year is very similar to Denver's plans to defend Russell: Take away the run and force them to throw.

"That's the key to a lot of young quarterbacks," Raiders safety Gibril Wilson said. "He's a good quarterback and they simplify it for him a lot and get him on the edge where he can do the stuff that he can do well. But if we can make him one dimensional … plus we have great corners and a great secondary … if we do that it'll just be that much better for us."

Oakland has to run the ball well against the Broncos to have any type of success. They were already thin at receiver to begin with and Lane Kiffin revealed Wednesday that Javon Walker is nursing a sore hamstring that makes him questionable to play against Denver.

The team signed also Ashley Lelie earlier this week and had Chad Scott in for a tryout on Tuesday. "If we're conservative it won't be about JaMarcus," Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said. "It'll be about everything around him, all the pieces and protection and comfort in his receivers. He lost Drew Carter, who was going to be a starting Z. Ronald (Curry) was hurt during the offseason, Javon's banged up now so there's a lot of things that go into that. If we're turning around and handing it off, that's not a reflection of JaMarcus.

· Kiffin said Walker's injury occurred toward the end of Sunday's practice. He has a slight hamstring pull and is listed as day-to-day.

Lelie, who signed a one-year contract with the team on Tuesday, is getting a crash course in the Raiders' playbook with the hope that he'll be available to play against Denver.

"That's our plan. That'll be up to him, how far he can take it," Kiffin said. "We'll give him opportunities. He seems to be picking up things pretty well. He seems to be very aware. Some of the terminology is the same from when he was in Atlanta (offensive coordinator Greg) Knapp so that helps him as well."

Lelie, who will line up at split end with the Raiders, blames his lack of success with San Francisco on injuries and sounded eager to revive his career in Oakland beginning Monday against the team that drafted him with the 19th overall pick in 2002. Ironically, he was drafted one pick before Green Bay took Walker. That year the Raiders used their first-round pick on cornerback Philip Buchanon.

"It's just another game in the road of games to get to the playoffs and win our division," Lelie said. "But I'd be lying to you if I didn't say I had something else extra in the tank for Denver. It'll be a fun game, I know a lot of the guys, played with Champ (Bailey) my whole career there. It'll be a fun game."

· In addition to Walker, defensive end Kalimba Edwards (groin) started practice but had to back off as the workout went along.

· Kiffin didn't sound too concerned that the Broncos had signed former Oakland defensive tackle Josh Shaw. The Raiders head coach isn't worried about any information leakage.

"I don't think that a D-tackle can tell you very much about the game plan," Kiffin said. "They just kind of line up and go. I'd be nervous if it was a quarterback especially. Not that Josh isn't a smart guy but I don't think Josh can tell you much about our game plan."

· Free agent wide receiver Chad Jackson worked out for the team but left town without a contract offer from the Raiders.

"Nothing's happened," Kiffin said. "We looked at him yesterday. We have him on record as a workout so if he need to go there now or in the future, we'd be able to in the future."

Jackson, a former second-round pick of New England who was cut on Sunday in a somewhat surprising move, reportedly was headed to Cincinnati for a tryout with the Bengals.

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