Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

October 30, 2008
Russell vs. Ryan

ALAMEDA - There have been some that would make the case Atlanta rookie quarterback Matt Ryan has "outplayed" Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell this season.

Ryan's team has more wins. Ryan has more touchdown passes (seven to six) but more interceptions (five to three).

Ryan has thrown for 1441 yards compared to 1258 for Russell.

Raiders interim head coach Tom Cable said the Falcons have protected Ryan similar to how the Raiders have monitored Russell by limiting passing attempts and relying on the running game.

Cable wouldn't go as far as to say Russell has been outplayed by Ryan.

"Actually they're about the same," Cable said. "I think they've thrown for about 183 more yards than we have on the year so you wouldn't say they're playing better than JaMarcus or anything like that. I certainly didn't say that. I just think the people around him are making plays."

What makes the perception Ryan is playing so much better than Russell is that he's a rookie while Russell had some time last year.

And it's also the four wins Ryan has a s starter compared to two for Russell this season.

Russell can do a lot to change that on Sunday.

*Cable said the Raiders two-back offense wouldn't be limited with Luke Lawton starting at fullback because Justin Griffith (knee) is out for the seaosn.

Cable has liked what Lawton's done in a limited role on offense.

"The big question now is can he go out and maintain it as the starter," Cable said. "We believe he can so we feel good about him."

Being a fullback in the Raiders zone-blocking scheme is different than the traditional blocking fullback, Cable said.

"You're a runner without the ball so you have to be able to block on the move," Cable said. "In scheme play, you go block that guy. In zone play, you don't do that. You're blocking zones, areas."

That's fine with Lawton (6-0, 240 pounds). He feels he's a natural for zone blocking.

"I'm not a typical masher, 270, I'm not that guy," Lawton said. "I'm 235, 240, a little more athletic, so I like to read things like a back, and go where the ball's going. I think I'm more suited for that, although I can still hit."

*Another injury on defense. Linebacker Ricky Brown injured his groin during Wednesday's practice and is doubtful for Sunday's game.

Robert Thomas and Sam Williams would be the candidates to fill in for Brown.

Running back Darren McFadden (left toe) is still in a walking boot and would need to practice tomorrow to have a chance of playing Sunday.

Safety Gibril Wilson (toe) did not practice, but Cable expects him to play Sunday.

Tyvon Branch is Wilson's backup.
Defensive end Derrick Burgess (triceps) and linebacker Jon Alston (foot) remain out.

Backup quarterback Andrew Walter (calf) and safety Michael Huff (thumb) were limited.

Cornerback Chris Johnson (back spasms) made it out to practice and was not limited.

Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was given the day off.

*There has been no decision made on whether Johnnie Lee Higgins or Branch would return kickoffs on Sunday.

Branch struggled on kickoffs, but the job became open again when Higgins made a gaffe by catching a kickoff and running out of bounds at his own two-yard line.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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