Russell takes extra work

News, notes and observations following Tom Cable’s post-practice press briefing:

— Most interesting sight following practice _ JaMarcus Russell, still on the field, doing some extra throwing, as Cable began a short session with the local media.

If that has been the case even once all year, I don’t remember it.

— No sellout. The Raiders will be blacked out for the fifth straight time since their Week 1 sellout.

— Defensive end Greg Ellis increased his practice reps but did not finish practice, classifying him as limited. Cable said he thought it was possible Ellis would make it through the Friday practice in its entirely and start against Cincinnati. Also limited but expected to play is special teamer Isaiah Ekejiuba (shoulder).

— Free safety Hiram Eugene, out with a shoulder injury Wednesday, made it through practice and should be available to play as a reserve and on special teams.

— Still out of practice and out of the picture for Sunday _ WR Javon Walker (hamstring), WR-KR Nick Miller (tibia) and LB Ricky Brown (ankle).

Brown said he has been running on the field recently but his return isn’t imminent.

— Cable’s review of Gradkowski’s practice session: “Good. He’s got good command, leading the huddle and throwing a lot of completions.”

— Gradkowski is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet and is adept at cliches as Crash Davis in “Bull Durham.”

A condensed version of the Gradkowski interview: “Just a matter of executing . . . as a competitor you want to start . . . one day at a time . . . one week at a time . . . we just have to stay the course.”

A transcript of Gradkowski’s media session will be posted later . . .

— Cable could only smile when asked if the Bengals’ resurgence this season after going 4-11-1 last year was a payoff for staying the course instead of making dramatic changes.

“You look at how they rebuilt that offensive line, and they’ve got some guys plugged in on defense,” Cable said. “They’ve had two first-round picks at linebacker that have worked out great. They’ve kind of stayed in there with Marvin (Lewis) and all of a sudden they’re playing pretty well.”

— Gradkowski played with Jeff Garcia in Tampa, has comparable dedication to preparation and also has a similar style, as Tollner noted in his media session.

Perhaps Garcia wanted no part of the Raiders _ his demeanor in training camp suggested he regretted ever signing the contract _ but you wonder if he’s regretting requesting his release. He would not only be the starting quarterback if still on the roster, but his presence may have forced the issue with Russell even sooner.

— You think it’s easy being Cable? Forget the concern over whether Gradkowski will make things better on Sunday. Instead, you worry about making it that far and without getting a phone call from the boss that says, “I changed my mind. JaMarcus is starting.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer