Part of the Bay Area News Group

It’s all about JaMarcus

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, July 19th, 2008 at 1:24 pm in Oakland Raiders.

In the days leading up to the first day of training camp, I’ll review the state of the rest of the AFC West and how they match up with the Raiders, as well as all Raiders position groups heading into the first practice on July 24. Today’s entry takes a look at Raiders quarterbacks:

Starter–JaMarcus Russell

Reserves–Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo, Sam Keller, Jeff Otis

What’s to like

We’ll see how he reacts the first time he forces the ball into coverage during a game, but early indications are that Russell is a calm and poised leader who seems to have already gained the respect of his teammates.

There are no temper tantrums or finger-pointing when things go awry at practice, just a lot of communication and encouragement with his fellow offensive players. While it’s true things can change dramatically in full pads, Russell looks up to being the man of the moment.

In terms of the Raiders offense, there seems to be a widespread belief that Russell is operating something out of his element, that he would be better off as a classic dropback thrower, the better to show off that impressive downfield arm.

I beg to differ.

Russell appears nimble enough in terms of footwork to operate a fairly conservative short passing game, with the added advantage of taking the shot now and then to keep defenses honest. It looks as if Lane Kiffin and Greg Knapp are urging safety first, making sure he takes care of the ball and finds his checkdown receivers.

As he becomes more comfortable, Russell can look for bigger and better things. It’s worth noting that with Darren McFadden around, those routine checkdowns can become big strikes in a hurry.

Walter enters camp with the edge as the backup, and he is the second-best pure passer on the roster behind Russell. He has acquitted himself well as a diplomat despite being the deposed quarterback of the future, and it’s no secret he is waiting for another day and another team.

Tuiasosopo was drafted by the Raiders to run an offensve very similar to the one Kiffin is running now. He appears to be picking things up quickly and exepcts to make a serious challenge to be the backup.

Keller played well enough on a tryout basis and has experience running a passing offense with multiple reads, having done it for Bill Callahan at Nebraska. If the Raiders find a trade partner for Walter, he could find himself as a No. 3 quarterback.

Before transferring to Nebraska, Keller was a loyal backup to Walter at Arizona State. The same could not be said for Rudy Carpenter, who lobbied and campaigned with teammates to oust Keller.

What’s not

Russell left LSU after his junior year, so it’s not as if he comes in with all the playing experience of a Peyton or an Eli Manning. He will make his share of mistakes _ and some will cost the Raiders games.

It’s a tossup whether the Raiders will be good enough defensively to allow them the luxury of playing it safe with Russell, needing to open things up before he’s ready simply to stay in games.

In so doing, the Raiders expose their tackles to pass block on the outside, and that could either force Russell into mistakes or make him put that 270-pound body to the test in terms of taking a beating.

Kiffin has never seemed to warm up to Walter, in part because he’s not a good fit for the bootlegs and rollouts he favors. He also has seen Walter as someone with bad body language when things don’t guy his way.

Tuiasosopo, for all his mobility and ability to interact well with his teammates, has never proven he can be the 60-plus percent passer the offense requires and too often makes the big mistake.

As for Keller, bad luck seems to follow the guy around _ kind of like the franchise he now plays for.

Otis is a camp arm.

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  • http://www.cosmicdanceband.com SilverNblack666

    MR shut your cake hole you have been called all of those things for a reason.

    You left out Troll and Gruden’s rump ranger or Grudens lover.

    All you do is whine and complain about the last five years. You are thin skinned and a band wagoner please do not attend any games this year. Or we will seek you out and dispose of you.

  • http://none MR

    SNB666, what’s the matter? Don’t get so worked up. It’s common knowledge amongst everyone outside of the Al Davis kool aid crowd that the man has no clue what he’s doing, and probably never did. There’s no reason to get angry when someone talks about it. It’s just something you have to face up to. You’ll feel better when you do. The truth will set us free, they say. Aren’t you tired of being angry and defensive ALL the time? It’s no way to live. Just face the fact that Al Davis sucks, and you’ll start to enjoy this place a little more.

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    666 what is up???????????????? Who you talking to?? I don’t see MoRon anywhere. I just hear a bunch of farting noises coming out of 49er clubroom.

  • http://none MR

    Oakglenn, am I a Niner fan today? I was a Buc fan yesterday. The day before that, a Dolt fan. Could you please just decide once and for all what team I’m a fan of?

    Look, you already faced up to the fact that al davis isn’t very smart. kudos. And, your posts actually started to make sense. Pretty soon, you’ll be a smart Raider fan like me. But now you’re slipping again, going back into Al defense mode by accusing his critics of being a fan of a different Raider rival every single day. Again, pick one Raider rival, and stick with it. It’s like you spin a wheel everyday, like the Price is Right, to figure out which team an Al critic is a fan of. Newsflash idiot: THEY’RE RAIDER FANS.

  • http://www.cosmicdanceband.com SilverNblack666

    Oakglenn

    That’s funny

  • Harry

    We did have 10 4th qtr leads last year. Now 4 of those we won and 6 others got away. All without a starting QB. Its a reason to be pretty optomistic. Especially if JR is as good as we hope and DMac is indeed special.

  • Harry

    I have a lot of issues with the “Al Davis sucks” crowd too. How many teams play for a Super Bowl every decade? And the years that build up to that are usually pretty successful. Al wants to win maore than anyone. Are you guys faulting AD for signing high priced free agents? Not wanting to break the bank for coaches? Hell, every team in the NFL can copy any other teams offense. AD is right, its not that important. YOu just have to have the players, in the right combinations, to make it work. Every year we get a team, and AD does what he can to fill in the peices missing from the year befores team. Usually the same pieces we are bitching about. In case you forgot, we had a Super Bowl team 6 years ago and the kickers are the only ones left. (I for one cheered the janikowski draft pick. But I remember the games we pissed away the year before missing FG’s.) Hopefully he found us a replacement Rich Gannon. We will see.

  • Brien

    Why let MRS bother you? She is upset there is no mroe Joe or Steve Young to lead the first women’s squad of the NFL. Very unintelligent person with a disdainment for Al Davis that holds zero water.

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