Question: Jason, I read the sports section of The Bee every morning. I'm a die-hard Raider fan, and I am very intrigued with JaMarcus Russell. I've been reading a lot of blogs that are saying that Josh McCown or Andrew Walter very well could get the starting job, but do you really think that the Raiders would pay JaMarcus all that money, take him first overall, and start him on the bench? If so, do you think that we'll see any of JaMarcus this year at all? Thanks.
- Vince Roche, Folsom
Answer: I think there is a very good chance the Raiders could leave Russell on the bench to start the season. Remember, Carson Palmer didn't play at all as a rookie.
But whether Russell starts also depends around players around him. I don't believe the Raiders will put him on the field if the offensive line is shaky and let him take a beating. That could hinder his growth and shatter his confidence (see David Carr).
I believe Russell will play this season. McCown's experience and mobility make him an ideal starter to begin the season, but the Raiders should work Russell in and give him the chance to see some real action. If the Raiders enter the last month or so of the season with no chance of making the playoffs, I wouldn't be surprised to see Russell finish out the season as the starter.
- Jason Jones
Question: I am a lifelong Raider fan. I started in Pensacola, Fla. I'm currently located in Austin, Texas, and I am making my way to Oakland, slowly but surely. My question, unfortunately, is regarding a rumor. Is it true that the offensive line is crumbling without even wearing pads, and regardless, what are your observations of the )-line thus far?
- Ian Lynch, Austin, Texas
Answer: Crumbling? I wouldn't go that far. Because they aren't in pads, it's hard to assess the line in the run game. In the passing game, you can get a feel for a player's quickness and footwork. There have been times when the defense gets the best of the offense in pass blocking - particularly defensive end Kevin Huntley, who could surprise a lot of people in 2007.
But I wouldn't say the offensive line is a failure right now (but I don't see them every day, so they might crumble when I'm not around). The group seems happy with position coach Tom Cable. The new run-blocking scheme looks a lot like the Denver Broncos, which excels without high draft choices up front.
Overall, the best thing I've seen from the line so far is Cable. The guys up front will be prepared to play or they'll have Cable in their face.
- Jason Jones