Russell, Kiffin still talking

Lane Kiffin may be out as the Raiders head coach but that hasn't stopped him from keeping in contact with Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who acknowledged the two men continue to talk and have even discussed this week's game against New Orleans.

"I actually talked to him … Monday night," Russell said Wednesday. "He just called and talked to me about (the Saints) defense, things he would do if he was here. So really nothing has changed. He's got a lot of off-time on his hands so he would pay attention to the defense I would have to go up against and leaves me a text message or voice mail here or there."

Al Davis might think differently, though there's nothing the Raiders' 79-year-old owner can really do. Since Kiffin is unemployed Oakland cannot consider him tampering with Russell. Nor can the team make any legal challenges to two friends maintaining a relationship.

It's just the latest twist in what has been one of the strangest years in franchise history.

Making it more bizarre is that Davis went out of his way last week to accuse Kiffin of not wanting to draft Russell, saying the former head coach told him the team couldn't win with Russell.

To his credit, Russell tried to avoid getting caught in the middle and wouldn't criticize either side. He also said he misses having Kiffin around.

"Yeah, he gave me the opportunity to play my first year in the NFL," Russell said. "He was a good coach to me."

In other notes from Wednesday's practice:

· Running back Justin Fargas worked out without any problems and should be fine to play against New Orleans. Rookie Darren McFadden was limited due to his lingering turf toe injury and continues to wear a protective boot on his right foot when not practicing but is expected to play against the Saints.

"I think it allows you to get back on track, your focus about who we are," interim head coach Tom Cable said. "We talked about being more balanced in the game. What I'm excited about is we're going to throw it and run it and have balance in that way, but to win games, you got to be tough at the end of the game and I think having them back will really give us that opportunity."

· Defensive end Derrick Burgess aggravated his triceps injury at practice Monday, the team disclosed, and was held out of Wednesday's workout. If Burgess can't play against the Saints, Oakland could flop Jay Richardson or Kalimba Edwards over to replace him or the Raiders can turn to rookie Trevor Scott, who has played sparingly this year.


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