One of the more telling comments from Raiders coach Tom Cable Monday came when he was asked about the viability of Charlie Frye as the starting quarterback.
Earlier in the press conference, Cable said he hadn’t even gotten so far as to whether Frye would be in the picture for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
But when the question came around a second time, Cable went into testimonial mode.
“He’s a gym rat. He’s always around. He’s always studying. He’s a lot like a coach,” Cable said. “Sunday morning he could really tell you ever detail about everything that’s going on with your offensive lineman to his position. I think we’re really blessed to have him.
“I think what he does every week is come out and works and works and works, performs well with the `look’ team, and certainly deserves to be part of this discussion.”
In short, Frye, in terms of approach and dedication, is everything Russell is not. It’s precisely the sort of quote Cable and anyone else associated with Russell would love to give about Russell but never has.
Instead, it’s always, “He’s starting to learn what it takes,’ `He is learning to work harder,’ `He’s starting to get it,” etc. . . Rest assured Cable believes that if Russell approached his job like Frye, there would never be any talk of sending him to the bench.
A few other observations . . .
— Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t limping and never mentioned an issue with his hamstring when reporters came into the locker room at 11:30 a.m. He said said all the right things about living with whatever decision Cable made as he addressed the chances of a potential start.
By 2 p.m., Cable said he had just learned of the injury.
To be fair, there’s a code among a lot of players that injuries aren’t discussed.
— Cable said flatly he had the latitude to decide his quarterback, and that he had talked with Al Davis but the subject hadn’t come up.
Roll that one around in your mind for a minute. Another passing game disaster necessitating the removal of the future of the franchise in a loss to a 1-7 team, and the subject of Russell never came up.
— At least two Raiders players, given their comments about the starting quarterback, weren’t so sure who would be making the final call.
“That is (a decision) for coach Cable to make or whoever up there,” center Samson Satele said.
“We’ll let Cable, and whoever makes that decision, make that decision,” linebacker Thomas Howard said.
We’re guessing in this case that “whoever” isn’t John Herrera.
— One reason why Michael Bush may not have gotten more than 14 carries? After carrying five straight times for 35 yards on the Raiders first possession of the third quarter, he signaled for a breather, at which time Justin Fargas came in and was stopped for no gain.
The drive stalled when Russell threw incomplete to Tony Stewart and Satele was flagged for being downfield on a 15-yard screen to Zach Miller. On third-and-15, Russell threw incomplete to Bush and Sebastian Janikowski missed his first field goal attempt since a year ago today _ a span of 20 straight conversions.
On one hand, Cable understood Bush’s fatigue. On the other, he made it clear he would have liked to simply keep giving him the ball.
“I would have rode that one,” Cable said. “Five tough runs like that in a row is a pretty good deal.”
— Hard to believe the Raiders won’t consider another option to return punts this week after Johnnie Lee Higgins looked tentative on some returns and lost on others, letting two kicks account for 20 yards of lost hidden yardage as they rolled past him. He wasn’t impressed with Jonathan Holland, either.
“We came out of the San Diego game, as I mentioned out of the game yesterday, feeling better about our return game, both of them,” Cable said. “I don’t think either guy brought much to the table yesterday.”
There appears to be no Nick Miller on the horizon, he was still in a protective boot on the sideline Sunday. Cable has already said he’s out against Cincinnati. And no thought of utilizing Darren McFadden on kickoff returns, where he fared well in college (although prone to fumbles). Makes you wonder if the Raiders had drafted Percy Harvin, would they have let him return kickoffs?
If the Raiders decide to put Ricky Brown on injured reserve, one option could be practice squad player Shaun Bodiford, who was fielding punts with Higgins last week when left-footed punters Ricky Schmitt and Glenn Pakulak were brought in for tryouts. It appears Schmitt and Pakulak’s punts did little for Higgins.
— Defensive end Richard Seymour maintained morale and work ethic are not a problem.
“You can look at situations and say, you know, only won two games this year,” Seymour said. “You would think the team would kind of be in the dumps and would be lost, and people trying to find the exit sign and all that. But I think it’s just the opposite. I think guys are excited about coming to work and seeing that if we play the game the way we need to play it, we can turn things around.”
As for his own situation regarding a longterm contract, Seymour said, “I prefer to wait and let the chips fall where they may.”
— If Michael Huff’s ankle injury is serious enough for an MRI, there’s a reasonable chance Hiram Eugene will be starting at free safety against Cincinnati. That’d be unfortunate, given that Huff is in his best stretch of play since joining the Raiders.
— Cable didn’t mention it, but Tommy Kelly has some sore ribs. He was having trouble breathing at the end of the Chiefs game but generally played well although he had a couple of neutral zone infractions.