Look out for the tumbleweeds


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 . . .


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Plunketthead

    Al Davis just texted me

    Raiders 31
    Bungles 17

  • 4evaRaider

    the tumbling tumble weed

  • cmiychludwig

    Russell only got benched cause his WR’s can’t catch the passes with that much heat on it. Gradkowski isn’t the better QB, his passes just don’t hurt the WR’s glass hands.

  • Chris, Russell has to learn how to run an NFL offense before he can just drop back and sling them. He needs to learn how to build drives. This is the NFL, not street ball. This is the problem with you die hard Raider fans. You guys honestly believe we can win by just dropping back and throwing deep. No team has won like that since the ’60s. We didn’t win that way in the ’70s, nor in the ’80s. We mixed it up and for the most parts, scored via long drives. Sure we hit the home run on occasion but despite what delusional, revisionist fans say, we did not set our offense up with it. I’ve got games from those eras on tape. I watch them occasionally. I see drives. I don’t see us dropping back and scoring with the bomb every touchdown.

    I can’t argue with you about Russell’s accuracy, or lack thereof. Are you second guessing Davis drafting him? Then you and Lane Kiffin are of the same mindset. But his lack of accuracy is all the more reason to give him a higher percentage playbook. The problem is, he’s given this archaic playbook that no NFL qb today could run. Not to mention, he’s surrounded by mediocre talent, at best.

  • 4evaRaider

    I dont really care who the better QB is,I just want 1 of them 2B able 2 win…move the chains,those sorts of things

  • I see the Raider faithful haven’t learned anything. Hope you guys have a lot of alcohol Sunday, to numb the pain. Later.

  • jmeds

    Russell may not have the mental capacity to succeed at the NFL level. If this embarrassment doesn’t light a fire in him to put in the hours and preperation needed to live up to his #1 status then nothing will. Personally, I feel Al Davis sealed his fate at Kiffin’s press conference last year when he said Kiffin did not want to draft him. Although i am not saying Kiffin was a great coach, I think he had us moving in the right direction only to crash because of Davis’ egotistical ways. I mean you can learn alot by talking to a guy for a few minutes. I wouldn’t have drafted him based on his conversation. Look at the elite qb’s in the league and their way with words and understanding of the game. I doubt Russell could comprehend basic english fundamentals let alone an NFL offense.

  • big pep

    at this point i would just like some stability, fault whoever for whatever but something has to be done about this team. i just remembered these clowns are all millionares fuc em, fuc that fat fuc sorry excuse for a n.f.l. q.b. and the rest of those starters who showed absolutely nothing. fire cable and someone take take sanjay lal whatever his name is (w.r. coach) and kick his assss.

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    The way JaMarcus Russell talks has nothing to do with it. He scored a 24 on the wonderlic and Dan Marino had a 16. That’s just southern drawl. I bet you with your logic would be lucky to break double digits. I glad they benched JR but not based on his conversation.

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    New Post

  • Kirk

    Gradkowski is a much better quarterback. He sees the field better, and he has the guts to run for a first down. Russell is just here to collect $32 million.

  • Johnny

    To RealMaddenRaider and any others that believe it’s the playbook’s fault or mainly due to the receivers (droppers perhaps?)… It’s Russell. It’s not the playbooks fault that he can’t feel a rush and can’t protect the football. It’s not the playbooks fault that he can’t complete a swing pass. It’s not the receivers fault that he throws an absolute rocket to someone five yards away. He has too little touch, terrible accuracy, appears to have no drive, little commitment, pathetic resposibility, very poor field vision and……. why did we draft this guy again? Oh yeah, he has an arm. Hooray….

  • jmeds

    I rather see the results on the field, do not get me wrong. The Southern drawl has nothing to do with showing up early, leaving late, and all the other things NECESSARRY to excel at this level. Wonderlick or not, JR doesn’t scream intelligence which, imo, is required at the QB position in the NFL. Him being satisfied with his horrendous play says all I need to hear. Could you picture Manning,Brady, Roethlisberger being satisfied? I know Oakland does not provide an environment for young players to thrive, but Russell is a big bafoon, sorry.

  • jmeds

    During the game Sunday I was yelling for JR to see the ENTIRE field. I never see this guy tell linemen their assignmnets, point out potential blitzers,etc. He comes to the line and runs his cadence. Physical talent will get you through college but not the NFL.

  • Bobby Bushay

    Henderson commenting on JaMarcus: “He hasn’t changed. You couldn’t really tell if he’s playing or not playing, that’s a good thing.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me… is it me, or does JaMarcus have a touch of apathy.

    As Bears Coach Mike Ditka said to Jim McMahon during their Super Bowl regular season in 1985, “Are you stupid or do you just not care?!?” To which McMahon sarcastically relied, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

    C’Mon J-Russ, you’ve got your money – become a man and knuckle down. You have to make it about you on and off of the football field, taking responsibility even if it isn’t. That would be a step in the right direction.

  • Raider801

    I’d bet Mario Henderson’s statement was more like “He hasn’t changed. You couldn’t really tell if he’s playing or not. . . . Um, and that’s a good thing?”