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Russell out; what if Walter wins?

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 9th, 2008 at 11:48 am in Oakland Raiders.

Updates with all inactives, release of Fred Wakefield . . .

So now it’s official. JaMarcus Russell won’t start today’s game against the Carolina Panthers with a rather sudden and advancing case of right knee tendinitis.

When the Raiders released their inactive list, Russell was listed as the No. 3 quarterback, with Walter as the starter. Other inactives include running back Darren McFadden and wide receiver Ronald Curry, who got on the field for one snap last week as a shotgun quarterback, only to have the play nullified by a penalty.

Which begs the quesiton _ what if Walter plays with minimal error and some real efficiency?

What if after 48 first-half possessions with one touchdown under Russell, Walter sticks it in the end zone a couple of times and maybe a third time in the second half?

What if the Raiders’ doormant wide receivers make a few plays on balls thrown with some real loft and touch, instead of waiting for a laser beam to explode into the sides of their helmets?

What if Raiders running back circle out of the backfield on screens and wheel routes break free af few times on touch passes Russell has not been able to complete consistently?

What if the Raiders actually win?

Of the top 35 quarterbacks listed in order of pass completion percentage, Russell ranks 35th.

The Raiders have maintained the position that Russell is actually playing well, he’s gotten praise every week, whether it was from Lane Kiffin or Tom Cable. The problem has to do with the passing game as a whole, when taking into account pass protection, timing and scheme.

Then again, Russell was also urged by Cable to “turn it loose,” to throw the ball to a target before it breaks rather than waiting until its too late. That would indicate that Russell is still to hesitant and too green to operate as an NFL quarterback.

One of the myriad issues between Kiffin and Al Davis was his kid gloves treatment of Russell. When Kiffin was fired, Davis said it was time for Russell to be set free.

In the four games since, with Cable trying to develop the future of the franchise, the Raiders have lost touch with their running game and Russell has been unable to carry the offense.

Should Walter accomplish what Russell could not, against an NFC South division leader that manhandled the same Atlanta team that embarassed the Raiders last week, it presents an interesting dilemma.

When the Raiders travel to Miami next week, do you start the quarterback who just won a game or the $60 million man?

Kind of hard to justify the“we play the players who give us the best chance to win” rhetoric if Cable either goes back to Russell or is told to go back to Russell.

Stay tuned.

Wakefield waived, Gunheim promoted

Along with McFadden, Russell and Curry, Raiders declared inactive were FB Jason Davis, DE Derrick Burgess, OLB Ricky Brown and C John Wade.

Fred Wakefield, who played offensive and defensive line for the Raiders, was waived in favor of practice squad end Greyson Gunheim. Gunheim is active for today’s game.

Inactives for the Panthers were CB C.J. Wilson, LB James Anderson, G Mackenzy Bernadeau, T Omiyale, WR Dwayne Jerrett, WR Kenneth Moore and DT Darwin Walker. Matt Moore was designated as the third quarterback.

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