The Raiders have ditched even-keeled for energy and passion.
It won’t matter if Bruce Gradkowski can’t complete passes with any greater frequency than JaMarcus Russell, but it sounds as if the presence of a new quarterback has picked up the tempo during practice this week.
When asked what Gradkowski brought to the huddle, running back Justin Fargas was quick to answer Friday.
“One, a passion for the game, a love for the game that he shows in the way he plays, the way he calls plays. The way he works on details of nplays with players, in between,” Fargas said. “I think that’s the main thing I’m seeing with him. It’s just, he’s a `get after it’ type guy.”
Gradkowski has the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy to go along with a penchant for details which the Raiders hope can jump-start their sagging offense.
“You want to make a play for your quarterback but when he shows that type of passion for the game, obviously guys are going to feed off it and try to give him that same effort,” Fargas said.
“Bruce gives us the best chance to win right now,” tight end Zach Miller said. “We’ve got to be out there and play better football than we have the last few games here.”
Coach Tom Cable noted an increase in completions during practice
“Bruce was very good this week in terms of going out and managing and throwing completions,” Cable said. “ I think that got everybody in rhythm in timing.”
“He’s obviously a pretty smart guy, reads things well, throws a real good ball,” Cable said. “He’s a pro quarterback, so they’re all good. We feel like we’ll be able to throw it around better now.”
Gradkowski’s abilty to keep things alive when a play breaks down will keep the Raiders on their toes.
“He’s a different type of quarterback,” running back Darren McFadden said. “You can’t give up on the play when you’re out there with him. He may start scrambling and then all of a sudden just heave the ball to you, so you have to be prepared and ready all the time.”
Said Miller: “He’s definitely mobile. As receivers you’ve got to be able to adjust and be ready if the pocket breaks down, that he’ll be able to scramble and find you downfield. Receivers have to make that adjustment.”
Running back Michael Bush and wide receiver Chaz Schilens were concentrating on taking care of their own business to give Gradkowski the best chance to be successful.
“I hope it does, any time you make a big switch like that. I mean, regardless of who was starting at that spot, we’re hoping to come in, stick to our game plan and do what we’re supposed to do.”
“You really just have to go with who’s out there, be quick about it, make the adjustment, whatever that may be, and move forward with it,” Schilens said.
— WR Nick Miller, WR Javon Walker and LB Ricky Brown did not practice and are out. LB Isaiah Ekejiuba and DE Greg Ellis were limited and are expected to play. Cable said Ellis is in line to start.
— No change in kick returners. It will be Johnnie Lee Higgins on punts, Jonathan Holland on kickoffs.