Fullback Gary Russell, who signed with the Raiders Oct. 7 and then played a key role in the Raiders’ 13-9 win over the Philadelphia Eagles 11 days later, told listeners on The Monty Show (Sporting News Radio) the difference between his new team and his old team has more to do with desire and aggression that ability.
“Coach Tom Cable came to me because I was in Pittsburgh and we won a Super Bowl …so he came to me asking me what’s the difference between here (Oakland) and Pittsburgh and I was like ‘man y’all got a lot more talent than we had in Pittsburgh, but talent doesn’t win games,’ ” Russell said. “And we started breaking it down and I told him that if the guys can get in there and throw their bodies on the line every play we could have a great team.”
Cable had high praise for Russell’s performance against Philadelphia, and not just because he caught five passes for 55 yards, including a 13-yard completion to convert a third-and-10 and allow the Raiders to run out the clock against the Eagles.
“Man, oh, man, he gave us a lot of explosiveness in there and knocked some guys around in there pretty good,” Cable said Monday. “He was able to seal a couple of run lanes and caught the ball well. The thing that he does well, that people don’t quite understand is, he’s a really good pass protector, and it showed up yesterday in some of their pressures.”
The Raiders waived fullback Oren O’Neal while injured (he is now on the club’s injured reserve, out for the season) and Luke Lawton was unavailable because of an ankle injury. Given Lawton’s problems holding on to the ball in the passing game, as well as Cable’s praise for Russell’s blocking, it would appear the Raiders have a new fullback.
Russell led the Raiders in rushing during the preseason with 158 yards on 28 carries but failed to make the final cut, with Darren McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush at running back and O’Neal and Lawton at fullback.
He gives the Raiders in some ways similar to Justin Griffith, a smaller fullback (5-foot-11, 215 pounds) who depends on technique and the element of surprise as a blocker while also serving as a solid receiver out of the backfield.
Russell had only caught one career pass with the Steelers and lost two yards before Sunday’s game against the Eagles.
“He’s always been able to catch the ball since he’s been here in training camp and everything,” Bush said. He can catch the ball. He’s got some nice soft hands.”
— Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce was just glad he could help.
A Raiders fan growing up in the Los Angeles area, Pierce’s observations about the lifeless Raiders being “like a scrimmage” in a 44-7 beatdown at the Meadowlands were posted in the locker room in Alameda _ and may have contributed to a win over Philadelphia. Which happens to be a division rival of the Giants.
“I was surprised that my quotes became bulletin board material. You know, again, I meant no disrespect by what I said last week. It was just my opinion of how I felt the game was going. But I was shocked to see how the Raiders went out there and played a very good Eagles team who we know very well,” Pierce said on Sirius Satellite Radio Tuesday. “And, you know what, that’s how it is in the National Football League, any given Sunday any team can go out there and play well.
“They got motivated by whatever. If it was my comments, you know, I’m happy because they beat the Eagles. But, you know what, they went out there and they played well and they got a win and it’s good for the franchise.”
— During the most recent edition of “The Head Coaches” in the NFL Network, former Rams head coach and network analyst Mike Martz seemed as surprised by the Eagles by the blitz package put forth by the Raiders.
“They’re doing things on defense that I’ve never seen them do before. It’s very effective,” Martz said.
— Another rumored “fire sale,” and another season of inactivity. The Raiders or the NFL had not announced any trades involving the franchise as of the deadline at 1 p.m. (Pacific time).