Garcia out, Gradkowski and Frye in as backups

Jeff Garcia was never really comfortable with the idea of being a backup to Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell. That's no longer a concern, as the Raiders gave Garcia his walking papers Saturday on their way to getting down to the 53-player roster limit. Find out why the Raiders say they made the decision to release Garcia and see S&BI's Michael Wagaman's analysis of that and the other moves.

Almost from the day he signed a one-year contract with the Raiders in April, Jeff Garcia talked about his unease transitioning to a backup quarterback after being a starter in the NFL for so long.

While he seemed to understand his role in Oakland would be as a backup and mentor to JaMarcus Russell, the 39-year-old Garcia seemed to grow increasingly frustrated playing understudy.

Missing two weeks of training camp with a left calf strain didn't seem to help, either. Garcia played sparingly in the preseason and had a quarterback rating that was the lowest among Oakland's four quarterbacks, including Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, the two quarterbacks the Raiders opted to keep instead of Garcia.

Whether it was his discomfort playing a backup or his performance on the field _ or a combination of both _ Garcia was one of 22 players the Raiders trimmed from their roster in order to reach the NFL's 53-player limit.

"I think that when you look at the preseason and practices in camp, and the games that we played (Frye and Gradkowski) were the most productive in terms of scoring points and moving the football team," head coach Tom Cable said. "Whether or not (Garcia) was comfortable in his role as a backup, it is what it is. JaMarcus is our guy and those other two guys did a great job in terms of performing on game night."

Cable declined to say whether Garcia asked to be released and instead praised the performances of Gradkowski and Frye, though he didn't say which of the two would be Oakland's No. 2 quarterback for the Sept. 14 season opener against San Diego.

"Bruce and Charlie bring a lot to the table in regards to JaMarcus," Cable said. "His relationship with the two of them is strong. I think that they understand that they have to be there and push him every day just like Jeff would if he was here, but he's not going to be, and so you just move forward."

Michael Wagaman's analysis: This is a move most likely done to accommodate Garcia, who ruffled some feathers with the way he was so outspoken after signing with the team. He was clearly uncomfortable being in Russell's shadow and believed he should have been given a more legitimate shot at being the starter, even though every one and their mama knew the job was Russell's and Russell's alone. Ironically, if Garcia is to get back in the NFL it's almost definitely going to be as a backup now. As for the Raiders, they'd better hope Russell doesn't get hurt. While Gradkowski has looked good in practice, he wasn't able to translate that into the preseason games and neither was Frye.

Taking a look at the other moves the Raiders made on Saturday:

-- DT Terdell Sands:The big man in the middle ran out of time in Oakland. Sands has been disappointing the past two seasons and saw his playing time cut dramatically in the preseason. He was also outplayed by William Joseph and rookie Desmond Bryant. No big loss here.

-- CB Justin Miller:Miller set a franchise record with two kickoff returns for touchdowns last season but really had problems playing defense in training camp and the preseason. He was repeatedly burned in practice and struggled in the exhibition games. With Miller gone, rookie Nick Miller likely assumes the kick return chores while Stanford Routt and John Bowie become the primary backups at cornerback.

-- S Jerome Boyd:Made some nice plays early in camp but ran into a wall midway through the preseason and couldn't recover. He also had a logjam of players in front of him which didn't help his cause.

-- CB Darrick Brown:Like Boyd, Brown made a few plays during the first few days of training camp but not much after. With Oakland being so thin in the secondary to begin with, Brown seemed to have a decent chance of sticking but did nothing to stand out.

-- DE Greyson Gunheim:The Raiders have a steady supply of pass-rushers, which is what Gunheim did best, but he was no better than fifth on the depth chart.

-- WR Jonathan Holland:One of the more surprising cuts, Holland had a terrific camp and was one of the Raiders' top receivers in the preseason with four catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Oakland chose to keep seven wide receivers, which seemed to open the door for Holland but the team went with rookie Nick Miller and veteran Todd Watkins instead.

-- T Seth Wand:Late addition to camp never got caught up to the pack and couldn't move up the depth chart.

-- T James Marten:Showed some spark at times but, like Wand, he was unable to work his way past third string.

-- LB Slade Norris:Oakland's fourth-round draft pick struggled making the transition from defensive end to stand-up linebacker and it showed. He also was hurt for a bit of time, which set him back even further.

-- LB David Nixon:Played very well in the Seattle game where he was very active and made several nice plays. But it was a numbers game, and the versatility of Sam Williams to play all three linebacker positions made Nixon expendable.

-- LB Morlon Greenwood:Didn't look completely comfortable and often looked like he was thinking instead of reacting.

-- LB Chris O'Neill:Got a second chance after being cut earlier but the former tight end wasn't able to make a positive enough impression.

-- FB Marcel Reece:Wouldn't be surprised to see Reece come back on the practice squad. He's got great size, very good hands and good potential. His blocking needs work, though, which is why the Raiders kept Luke Lawton instead.

-- RB Gary Russell:Led Oakland in rushing during the preseason with 154 yards and three touchdowns but the Raiders like the quickness and elusiveness of Louis Rankin better.

-- P Ricky Schmitt:Signed late last year as insurance in case Shane Lechler bolted through free agency, Schmitt may have trouble finding work after a lackluster preseason.

-- TE Darrell Strong:The Raiders kept three tight ends and Strong wasn't one of them. No real argument there because Zach Miller, Tony Stewart and rookie Brandon Myers are all clearly better options at this point.

-- G Mark Wilson:Oakland only kept one backup guard – Paul McQuistan – while Wilson was behind the eight ball early after missing time in camp with an injury.

-- DT Ryan Boschetti:The guy has a motor that won't quit, but just like his days in Washington, Boschetti wasn't impressive enough to make it onto the 53-man roster.

-- C John Wade*:Expected to push Samson Satele for the starting center job, Wade instead spent most of his time watching practice due to a stinger. But in maybe the biggest surprise of the day, head coach Tom Cable announced Chris Morris would start at center against San Diego instead of Satele. Wade? He's going to be hard-pressed to get a job at his age and given he has played minimally since 2007.

-- S Rashad Baker*:Cut by the Eagles after failing to break into their top four safeties, Baker joined the Raiders late in camp and couldn't do much to move up the depth chart.

-- CB Michael Hawkins*:Another late addition to camp, Hawkins had a pretty non-descript stay in Oakland and didn't do anything to stand out in the games.



* = Players who were waived/injured


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