One of the more interesting personnel decisions with regard to the Raiders has to do with quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, and he won’t even play tonight against the Chicago Bears.
Charlie Frye is out of the picture, having been placed on injured reserve after wrist surgery with a rehabilitation timetable which coach Tom Cable places at four to five months.
Kyle Boller, a former first-round draft pick, played well in a 17-9 win against Dallas and will get extended time tonight against the Bears.
Colt Brennan, who didn’t play against Dallas, is slated to play in the fourth quarter tonight. He’s shown an ability to complete passes from the day he arrived, and if you happen to be one of the handful of people invited to watch practice, you understand that’s no small feat.
Gradkowski’s advantage is that he has produced in an actual NFL regular season game. Neither Boller nor Brennan has anything to match what Gradkowski did for the Raiders last year in wins over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Gradkowski’s game against the Steelers may have been the best game for a Raiders quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2002.
Working against Gradkowski is the fact that when he won those games, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was the quarterbacks coach in Baltimore.
If Jackson determines Boller should be the backup, and Al Davis agrees, any credit line Gradkowski built with head coach Tom Cable for helping save his job means little.
Gradkowski’s one-year non-guaranteed tender at $1.759 million, reasonable for a backup quarterback, becomes a lead weight if Jackson determines he’d rather have Boller as the backup and Davis determines Brennan would be an interesting and more economical option at No. 3.
PEPPERS A BIG TEST FOR MARIO
Mario Henderson’s biggest claim to fame in training camp so far is he’s a hell of a bowler.
He’ll get a chance tonight to add something else to his resume tonight if he can neutralize Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers.
For what it’s worth, the Web site profootballfocus.com rated the 2009 Raiders as the worst offensive line in the NFL and Henderson as the worst lineman.
“I’m going to have a lot of challenges during the season. I might as well play one of the best during the preseason so I can see where I’m at and if I’m not where I’m supposed to be, fix it before the season starts,” Henderson said. “(Better) now than later.”
FIGURS MAKING A BID
Yamon Figurs may a big play and and a big return away from having a real shot at the 53-man roster.
The former third-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens has the speed the Raiders love _ his 4.30 time in 40-yard dash was the fastest at the 2007 NFL scouting combine _ but in the last week has shown the ability to get open, catch the ball and head upfield.
It’s a crowded field for smallish wide receivers, including rookie fourth-round draft pick Jacoby Ford, fourth-year man Johnnie Lee Higgins and and 2009 camp surprise Nick Miller. I suppose you could include Shaun Bodiford in that mix, but he would seem to be a real longshot.
If the Raiders keep Rock Cartwright to return kickoffs, one of four is your likely punt return specialist and the other three are in a precarious situation.
Coach Tom Cable cited Figurs after a recent practice as a player who has caught his eye.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Figurs said. “When you’re trying to come out there and make a name for yourself, when you get the chance you’ve got to go show what you can do, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”