Raiders' QB Situation Muddled As Ever

JaMarcus Russell isn't ready and Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper have played poorly. Toiling in anonymity behind them is Andrew Walter, who isn't likely to get any playing time and still hasn't been released or traded.

Andrew Walter has watched helplessly as NFL teams look for quarterbacks, with the Carolina Panthers going so far as to sign 43-year-old Vinny Testaverde.

With the Raiders, Walter isn't even a third-wheel. He's a fourth-wheel — a No. 4 quarterback in a league where three is the norm.

Starters Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper have struggled while No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell continues his crash course of the Raiders offense, having missed all of training camp and the preseason while waiting for his contract to be done.

Walter goes to meetings, prepares mentally as best he can, and then seldom even gets a scout team rep in practice.

"It's been a challenge but character is tested in tough times and we're in a tough time right now," Walter said.

Walter was rumored to be on his way out at the trade deadline, and coach Lane Kiffin has hinted at a release so the Raiders can add another player.

The trade never happened because McCown was injured and Russell wasn't close to being ready at the deadline, meaning Walter was the backup for Culpepper.

The release isn't happening because Raiders owner Al Davis thought enough of Walter to make him a third-round draft pick in 2005, and now thinks he still can be of some use even if Russell has replaced him as the quarterback of the future.

McCown and Culpepper are in the final year of their contracts and could walk after the season ends. Kiffin said if both quarterbacks leave, the Raiders would go into the 2008 season with Russell as the only quarterback under contract if Walter were released.

Walter knows the value of Russell's contract has removed any chance for him to be the Raiders' starter.

"Ultimately, I want to play," Walter said. "I would have been thrilled if that was here. If it's somewhere else, obviously, that's up to the organization. My goal is never to be a career backup. When you draft a guy No. 1 overall, he's going to get the ball sooner rather than later. It aces out any situation that I can see myself in ... the writing is on the wall."

Kiffin said he has no plans to elevate Walter even with McCown and Culpepper playing poorly, but appreciates the way Walter has dealt with the situation.

"Andrew has handled himself very first-class," Kiffin said. "It doesn't do any good to come out and complain. That's never going to help you. He's done a really good job because it's not been easy. When you see a team losing you think, ‘Well, I can do that. I can turn the ball over three times. I can lead us to six points.'"

NOTES

  • QB Josh McCown, with nine interceptions in 71 passing attempts, is just two shy of his career high. He had 11 interceptions in 163 attempts for Arizona in 2005.

  • RB Justin Fargas, who had 23 carries for 81 yards against Chicago, has 518 yards rushing — just three shy of LaMont Jordan for the team lead. Fargas is averaging a full yard per carry better than Jordan, 5.0 to 4.0.

  • FB Justin Griffith did not run from scrimmage or catch a pass against Chicago, the third time that has happened this season.

  • WR Ronald Curry leads the Raiders in receiving with 34 receptions for 418 yards, but is tied for 42nd in the NFL.

  • WR Jerry Porter has not scored a touchdown in a Raiders home game since Dec. 19, 2004 — a span of 22 games.

  • TE Zach Miller has 21 receptions for 184 yards is tied among rookie tight ends with Chicago's Greg Olsen for the NFL lead and is the tied for third overall behind Kansas City's Dwayne Bowie (38 receptions) and Green Bay's James Jones (32).

  • DE Derrick Burgess had his second sack in three games after going without one for the first seven, two of which he was injured and did not play.

  • LB Robert Thomas, who has started the last five games in place of the injured Sam Williams, has 35 tackles — one shy of his season total last season.

  • LB Thomas Howard, who had interceptions in each of his first four games, has none in his last five.

  • P Shane Lechler has put just two punts into the end zone for touchbacks this year — and one was a 70-yarder that went over 80 yards in the air.

  • PK Sebastian Janikowski went without a touchback against Chicago after going eight consecutive games with one or more.


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