By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, November 19th, 2009 at 1:21 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Ted Tollner said it’s apparent the Raiders offensive players are throwing their support behind Bruce Gradkowski just as they did JaMarcus Russell.
It’s just that they didn’t feel much like talking about it on Thursday.
During the 45 minutes allotted the media for an open locker room session, players were few and far between. Most were practice squad players and non-starters. Slade Norris seems like a nice enough guy, but his opinion on the quarterback switch isn’t particularly relevant.
Justin Fargas quickly came through the door, made his way to his locker, grabbed something then bolted toward the off-limits area near the equipment room.
With Gradkowski and Tollner talking to the media outside the locker room, it gave players plenty of time make quick stop at their lockers to drop off equipment and then stay hidden from view.
That included JaMarcus Russell, who is no longer obligated to speak to the media by virtue of his new status as the backup quarterback.
Wide receiver Chaz Schilens walked toward the open area, only to see media members, do a neat reverse pivot and then recede from view. Hopefully he didn’t blow out another metatarsal. Richard Seymour strolled past in a hallway, took a quick look and kept walking.
Defensive linemen came in after a short meeting and most quickly exited.
Left tackle Mario Henderson was an exception, taking off his headphones to ask a few questions. During training camp, Henderson took exception to criticism of Russell and stories of about his weight and lack of a work ethic. He said they weren’t true then, and he sees the same teammate now.
“He hasn’t changed. You couldn’t really tell if he’s playing or not playing, that’s a good thing,” Henderson said. “He’s still keeping a positive attitude, nothing changes with him when he comes in during practice. He’s keeping the same demeanor, the same attitude, so everything has pretty much been the same.”
On most teams, a media relations staff has a plan of action after things such as a quarterback change. They’ll send out a few players perceived as leaders, who will vow their support for the new starter while at the same time back the former starter and remind everyone that it isn’t all his fault.
The deposed starter is advised things will go a lot better in the court of public opinion should he answer a few questions, even if he does little else but say he’s disappointed and will keep working to get better.
That isn’t how the Raiders roll.
Good or bad, the less said the better.
For whatever reason, things tend to loosen up a little on Friday.
More to come from Gradkowski and Tollner sessions as well as post-practice briefing from coach Tom Cable . . .