Russell content handing off _ for now

Quick hits from Thursday’s media window and locker room availability, with quotes relayed from Medianews beat writer Steve Corkran:

— Interesting take from Bills quarterback Trent Edwards Wednesday about the philosophy of playing it safe and avoiding turnovers, comparing his own experience to what JaMarcus Russell is going through this season.

“There’s a fine line you have to walk to know when to check the ball down and when to take chances, too,’’ Edwards said. “It’s kind of an instinctive thing you’ve got to have. A coach can tell you not to turn the ball over but you have to take your shots or you’re not going to put points on the board.’’

Russell, as cool as ever, said he is content to execute Lane Kiffin’s plan of being better safe than sorry. Russell has drawn raves from the coach, even during a 1-for-12 streak against the Chiefs, because he used his strong arm to throw the ball out of bounds rather than run the risk of a turnover.

“That last game or any game, control the ball and not give it away and give them a free chance to do whatever they want to with the ball, then you’re going to be pretty good,” Russell said. “I was just going out there, if it wasn’t there, check it down or throw it away. That’s basically what we go through throughout the year. We did that in camp so that’s basically what I try to go out there and do.”

Russell didn’t deny a part of him that would like to throw more often.

“Deep down inside yes. But the team player part of me says whatever it takes to win,” Russell said. “If I have to go out there and hand off 100 times in a game and we win, I’ll hand off 101 times. No matter what it is to win that game I’m going to be that team player and go out there and help out.”

— Herm Edwards once said, “You play to win the game!,” in an infamous postgame tirade which will some day be a beer commercial once he’s retired. Here is how Kiffin explained it: “I was talking to (Russell) between series, `Don’t take any risks. We don’t care about stats. We want to win the game.’ . . . as you had the momentum and you had the game, the thing you couldn’t do was turn the ball over, and he did a good job.”

Kiffin said in a different situation, Russell may need to reverse field and go for a big play, depending on the circumstance. It just happened that Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium wasn’t one of those times.”

— Running back Darren McFadden has been practicing with a steel plate in his shoe and concedes his turf toe injury is bothersome.

“You think you see a guy with turf toe, ‘Oh, it’s just a toe, he can go with it,’ ” McFadden said. “Once you get it, you understand why because every move that you make on it, it all revolves around your toe, and it’s pretty painful.”

Charles Woodson needed pain-killing injections every week to get through the 2001 season, missing practice every day and playing on Sunday.

McFadden said he wasn’t sure if he would need to take a shot. He said he was timid running on it at first but that the pain seemed manageable.

As far as running with a steel plate in his right shoe, McFadden said, “It made me feel like I was running flat-footed. I feel like once I get used to practicing with that, playing with that, I’ll be all right.”

— While discussing turf toe, the possiblility of injections and all the practices Woodson missed in 2001, Kiffin said, “I thought Woodson didn’t practice anyway, the stories I heard. I don’t think it had anything to do with his toe.”

— Sounds as if Justin Fargas, who almost certainly won’t play against Buffalo, doesn’t stand much of a chance of being Wally Pipped even if McFadden and Bush burst to the forefront with games similar to the ones they had in Kansas City.

Not as long as Kiffin is around, anyway.

“We’ll be on the safe side with Justin. That does hurt us in a number of things because he is the one veteran back that understands our protections the most,” Kiffin said. “To me he’s kind of the heartbeat of our offense by who he is. If you can be in our locker room before games and on our sidelines during games, this is a guy that keeps these guys together with his energy. He’s just a dynamic competitor that we’ll miss if he can’t play. The young bucks will have to go and step up.”

— Tampa Bay may be the season-ending opponent on Dec. 28, but that doesn’t stop Kiffin from bouncing ideas off his father Monte, and vice-versa.

“When we’re playing somebody from the system he’s in defensively. I might bounce something off him like ‘hey has anybody ever done this to you? What would be your adjustment here?,” Kiffin said. “And he’ll call me and say ‘Hey defenses keep doing this. I know you guys run this play, what are you telling the quarterback? What are you telling the backside tackle?’ It’s just competing to help each other.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer