News, notes and quotes Wednesday following the Raiders’ open locker room session and post-practice press briefing with coach Tom Cable:
— Perhaps JaMarcus Russell isn’t at the end of the road with the Raiders, but he’s getting close enough to see the street sign marked “dead end.”
Over the past month, Russell, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 NFL draft, has been overtaken by Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, neither of whom was a lock to be on anyone’s roster this season.
As Cable went over his reasons for keeping the one-time future of the franchise on the bench, what he said about Frye and Gradkowski told you all you need to know about the perceived shortcomings with Russell.
“(Charlie) and Bruce are similar in a lot of ways,” Cable said. “They have great command, they study all the time, they work, they’re ultra-prepared. Charlie was here all day yesterday before we even talked about what we were going to do, which is typical of him.
“He got the plan last night and it was bang, bang, bang. He was having a conversation with his coach, understands what we’re doing, understands Denver and how we have to attack them to be successful.”
In Cable’s eyes, the Redskins attacked Russell the same way in the second half as they did Gradkowski in the first. It was a “rush to cover” scheme, meaning any defender who was assinged to an eligible receiver held in to block became a blitzer.
“You just want to be able to see us go out and continue to manage,” Cable said. “I think Bruce at the end of the first half was well on his way to another 300-yard game.”
Russell? He had 74 yards passing and the Raiders had 39 yards of total offense.
— Cable deflected any talk of what bypassing Russell for the starting job suggests about his future with the franchise with three years left on his contract.
“It’s too early for all that. Right now we want to find a way to win these last three games,” Cable said. “At this point, this is what we feel, that I feel is the best thing for us.”
— Asked if the coaching staff had done all it can with Russell, with the quarterback being responsible for more, Cable said, “I think both as a staff, as a coach, as a team, I think everybody is working to try and help him get better all the time. He’s certainly giving back to that, as best he can, and at some point you hope to have a breakthrough and move forward.”
The key words: “As best he can.”
I take that to mean there’s an entirely different level of dedication and preparation Russell has yet to achieve.
Like Frye, for instance.
“He’s always around. Charlie is so much like a coach. In Charlie Frye’s world there is no off day,” Cable said. “He’s always here. He’s here early, he’s here late. He’s in and around, seeing what’s going on, giving thought. I think it’s good to have that kind of input from players, whether it’s Charlie Frye or anyone else.”
— OK, then how come Frye wasn’t the backup to Gradkowski against Washington?
“I don’t think we were ready for that,” Cable said. “Based on the decision that was made, it was the right thing.”
— Cable said Russell has remained even-keel but is certain he is subject to the same emotions as everyone else, and that the way he shrugs off the poor performances are construed as a negative when his team is losing.
“I think that’s the whole point here. His struggles are out there. It’s on film and in the game and those sort of things,” Cable said. “He’s a young guy that still has room to grow and room to develop, and I think we need to keep sight of that.”
We pause for some Russell free news . . .
— Tight end Zach Miller did not practice and will need to pass baseline tests before returning the practice field after his second concussion since Oct. 4.
— Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is “doubtful” and likely to miss his third straight game.
— Cable, like Gradkowski, is holding out hope that his quarterback can rehab sufficiently from MCL tears in both knees to face Cleveland next week.
— Free safety Michael Huff (stinger) practiced without limitations. Defensive end Greg Ellis (knee) did not practice but rates a good chance to face Denver, while wide receiver Nick Miller ran on the grass Tuesday and was too sore to practice Wednesday. If he makes the field this season, it’ll be an upset bigger than the win over the Eagles.
— Cable’s assessment of newly signed QB J.P. Losman:
“Very athletic guy. Strong arm, threw the ball good yesterday in his workout,” Cable said. “A guy that’s got some experience in the league, so he kind of fits for us to have an emergency guy in here. He’s familiar with a little bit of how we call things. So he’ll help in that area.
Raiders lineman Langston Walker, who played with Losman in Buffalo, said he’s sure the quarterback is enjoying the weather.
“He’s a fiery guy and he’s a California kid, so he likes warm weather and shorts and flip-flops,” Walker said. “I think we were both a little bit out of our element in the cold of Buffalo. But he’s definitely a good player. He’s a leader and I think he’ll step in here and do a good job and do what
he’s asked to do.”
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels told Bay Area reporters by conference call he worked out Frye for the Patriots before the draft.
“He’s a mobile quarterback, not unlike Gradkowski in terms of his ability to get away a little bit and create some plays with his legs, or keep some plays alive by moving out of the pocket,” McDaniels said. “So, we’re definitely going to be ready for both, a pocket passer and a guy that can move and do some things with his legs.”
— Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said the biggest difference in Mike Nolan’s defense is he has often shadowed the other team’s best receiver, something he hasn’t done in past years. Cable didn’t rule out having Nnamdi Asomugha do the same with Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall, who caught an NFL record 21 passes against Indianapolis.
“I certainly think those two guys will be matched up a little bit,” Cable said.
— Roy Schuening, the guard/center who was waived to make room Losman on the roster, was claimed to the 53-man roster of the Detroit Lions beofre the Raiders had a chance to sign him to their practice squad.