Not a good day for Raider QBs

JaMarcus Russell didn't have a great day at practice Wednesday. Then again, neither did either of his backups, making it a long day for the Raiders' quarterbacks. Find out what happened and what it means in S&BI Senior Writer Michael Wagaman's Raiders roundup.

Jeff Garcia appeared to be creating a mini-quarterback controversy in Oakland when he recently went on a radio show and talked about importance of putting the best players on the field because many people took it as a veiled reference to the situation between Garcia and JaMarcus Russell.

But if Wednesday's OTA was any indication, neither Russell nor Garcia can stake a clear-cut claim to the starter's job.

Both quarterbacks, along with third-stringer Bruce Gradkowski, struggled to find a good rhythm during the team's 2 ½-hour practice.

Russell, who will be Oakland's starter when the 2009 season begins barring injury, misfired several times, throwing passes that were low, high and off the mark. Garcia looked a little better connecting on the short routes but twice overthrew open receivers trying to go deep. Gradkowski's day wasn't much better.

"There's some good throws and then there were some things I thought we could throw better," Raiders head coach Tom Cable said. "(Russell), like Jeff, has been very streaky. They've both been hitting two, three, four completions in a row, then they don't complete two or three in a row. So trying to change that but some of that's newness. Maybe it's a receiver or a tight end running a route or a quarterback not getting something new read right."

Russell took the majority of reps in practice and had the most glaring problems. He struggled selling the play-fake on one particular play then made a poorly underthrown pass intended for tight end Tony Stewart that should have been intercepted but cornerback Darrick Strong let the ball clang off his hands.

Russell later connected on a short 12-yard completion to Stewart and another to wide receiver Samie Parker but misfired on an intermediate throw to Johnnie Lee Higgins that was picked off by Stanford Routt.

"He's getting it," Cable said. "Like everybody … (he's) kind of struggled with some things but at the same time he's better today than he was yesterday. I expect him to be better tomorrow."

Asked specifically where Russell has struggled, Cable said "Just being accurate and understanding where to throw the football and when."

Garcia didn't have much better luck.

He did make a nice throw to Higgins in front of linebacker Thomas Howard and later connected with a wide open Parker but also missed on a pair of deep throws and overthrew another short route.

Later, after practice ended, Garcia tried to downplay the comments he made on radio but stood by his assertion that the Raiders need to start the best quarterback they have.

"I just think that the best players need to be on the field, no matter what position is at stake or what the situation is," Garcia said. "The guys who are going to help this team win football games need to be out on the field. And that doesn't necessarily look at where you were drafted, or what you're being paid. It means what brings this team together the best. And I hope that with how this team has been set up and what has happened as far as draft and all those things are concerned, that the necessary things pieces fall into place and the guys who are supposed to be out there are out there. But I think that everybody needs to understand that with the direction that this team has been heading in the last few years and what has happened as far as a record standpoint is concerned, that nobody has stability at their position, that every position needs to be up for grabs, that every position needs to realize that there's competition there because nobody has been good enough to prove that they belong, to be that starting guy.

"Everybody can take that the way they want to take it but that's just my idea, my focus, as far as trying to help this team understand how they need to approach this game individually in order for this team to really come together as a team."

Other news and notes from Wednesday's practice:

X Wide receiver Javon Walker, center Samson Satele, defensive end Jay Richardson and left guard Robert Gallery all attended the workout but did not practice. Defensive tackle Gerard Warren's pectoral strain, which he suffered during the May mini-camp, also kept him out.

Richardson suffered a knee strain Tuesday, according to Cable, but should be able to practice when the OTAs resume in two weeks.

X Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha did not attend Wednesday's workout, leaving John Bowie to start in his place. Bowie hasn't played much since being drafted by the Raiders with the fourth-round pick they obtained from New England in exchange for wide receiver Randy Moss.

X Running back Darren McFadden, who figures to be a much more integral part of Oakland's offense than he was in 2008 as a rookie, lined up wide left during one play and the defense almost forgot about it before Michael Huff came sprinting over late.

Russell saw the opening and immediately went to his hot read, firing a quick strike to McFadden in front of Huff.

McFadden later took a handoff from Russell and slowly worked to his left, appearing to be cutting the play inside before quickly accelerating around the end and sprinting upfield for a big gain.

X Tight end Marcel Reece made two nice catches, one in traffic after which he gave cornerback Justin Miller a hard shove under the facemask.

X Newly acquired defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti provided a nice lift for the defensive line when he bull-rushed into the backfield and batted a Russell pass out of the air.

X Linebacker Ricky Brown and right guard Cooper Carlisle are two of the most easygoing players on the Raiders roster, which made their scuffle in the midst of practice all the more surprising.

Brown and Carlisle hooked up during a running play and had to be separated by a pair of teammates after Carlisle took a swing at Brown.

"He's one of my better friends on the team but, it's like tempers get flaring," Brown said. "t could have been an offensive lineman five plays ago that just set me off, or a defensive lineman set Coop off. Then chemicals mix and then you get a little something. But I went up to him, and he was cool with it, I was cool with it. It's just part of the job."

Discuss this story and more in the Legends Lodge.

SB Report Top Stories