Gradkowski better equipped this time


Bruce Gradkowski can at least be comforted by the knowledge that his Pittsburgh homecoming can’t go any worse than it did last Dec. 28.

Starting for the Cleveland Browns less than a month after his arrival, Gradkowski was 5-for-16 for 31 yards and a pair of interceptions in a 31-0 loss. The Browns were punching the clock in the last game of the Romeo Crennel regime. The Steelers were sharpening up for a Super Bowl run.

Gradkowski had zero chance to succeed and a quarterback rating of 1.0.

He called it a “good experience” Thursday when talking to the local media, and when pressed, downgraded it to “an experience,” believing any playing time is worthwhile, regardless of the supporting cast.

“Going up against a great defense and not really knowing your own offense, it was quite an experience against a team that was on fire and headed to the Super Bowl,” Gradkowski said.

A Pittsburgh high school star at Seton-LaSalle, Gradkowski’s family will number more than 40 and he expects more than 100 people to be there.

“My family, my cousins, they’re die-hard Steeler fans. Last year when I was with the Browns it was hard for then,” Gradkowski said. “They wore neutral colors but I think being with the Raiders this past year and getting to know these guys and being with this team, I know I’ll have the family behind me on this one.”

Gradkowski plans on having some teammates over to his parents’ home for some home cooking, although he’s not sure where they’ll all fit.

Of a bigger concern is a Pittsbugh defense ranked No. 1 in the NFL against the run (74.9 yards per game) and yet to allow an individual runner to break 100 yards this season, with Baltimore’s Ray Rice getting 88 last week for a season high against the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has been historically difficult to run against. Even in 2002, with running backs such as Tyrone Wheatley and Charlie Garner, the Raiders abandoned the run and instead spread out the Steelers, throwing 41 times in the first half and 64 times in the game.

Gradkowski won’t be asked to do what Rich Gannon did, but chances are the Raiders will have to pass more than they run and they’ll need a 60 percent completion percentage and minimal turnovers to have a chance.

“They’re a good defense because they have a variety,” Gradkowski said. “They’re very good up front and they’re also good in the secondary.

“They don’t really lack in any position on defense, and they’re experienced. They’re led by (James) Farrior on defense and it shows. So they’re a good defense with experience and they’re going to change up the looks. We kind of have to be ready for anything.”

Defensive end Greg Elllis (knee) was not on the field for the second straight day as the Raiders concluded warmups and drills. Running back Justin Fargas (stinger) was practicing again.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • primussuxxx Says:
    December 3rd, 2009 at 3:14 pm
    Fassel would be a desperation pick. he has already lobbied for the job, and Al passed.

    Lol, just because Al made a mistake the first time doesn’t mean he should pass again…the desperation pick was hiring a guy that couldn’t even coach at a low-level college (11-35…what a resume!).

  • Larz

    Trestman has already committed to his players he’s returning to Montreal.

  • Larz

    They should bring in Popp and Trestman.

    Popp loves Trestman and so do his players.

    Last guy in the world you’d think would be a great HC but he is totally sincere to his players and treats them like men.

  • primussuxxx

    Dakota, no one in the NFL has given fassel any chance at all. Billick gave him a shot at QB coach and help with the offense (wikipedia says offensive coordinator, but if I recall, he was like an assistant of some sort, but not a coordinator), but dude has gotten squat from the NFl since he was fired as the NY Giants coach. he was fired in 2003 and it is damn near 2010. why would nobody else give him a shot at head coach again? it is coaches like Fassel, ones on the scrap heap, they will be the kind of coaches we choose from. or maybe we get lucky again with a young coach. As for trestman saying he commited to his players in the CFL, please.

  • Dark Forces

    Raiders should just forfeit this game, it will be a loss. We are one of least physically imposing teams in the league despite all those important workout numbers we have. We will not be able to run and the passing game will get ripped apart. The Raiders used to be right there with the Steelers in terms of physicality but now we are soft and weak and have been for a long time. The Raiders can’t even call ourselves a “finesse” team because our team is so inept. Al Davis has completely tarnished his once great legacy and it is sickening to see.

  • CaptainBlack

    “How Lame on your part. Keep asking until you get a friggin answer, journalist!”

    KK, nice!

  • CaptainBlack

    Tom Cable isn’t going anywhere! Al must develop Cable as Cable must develop the players. Now, if Cable is unable to develop the players, only Raider insiders would know this, then he should lose his job. But I don’t believe Cable has been given sufficient time as HC to make any determination on his future.