Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 20, 2008
Russell gives back

OAKLAND - Forgive this post for being so late in the evening.

Instead of writing two stories and blogging, I wrote two stories and headed over to Lucky's near Fruitvale where JaMarcus Russell was helping give out turkeys and other fixings to needy families.

"Helping out single mothers, battered women and disabled women was something we decided to do at this juncture," said Ray Russell, JaMarcus' uncle. "With the economy as it is, its hard for them to not be able to provide for their families, especially around Thanksgiving. We wanted them to know someone was thinking about them. That's something we wanted to do as a family and we got it done."

Lucky's, Pepsi and Oakland Cadillac helped make sure the event was a success.

Approximately 450 turkeys were given out.

Russell was still wearing a walking boot on his right foot. But he wasn't moving with a noticeable limp as he posed for pictures with families and store staff.

And the boot didn't hinder Russell's sense of humor.

When a fan asked what was wrong with his foot, he said ants had attacked it.

In reality, he twisted his ankle during the game in Miami.

*Russell knows what Andrew Walter, Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Aaron Brooks, etc., all knew.

Ronald Curry can be a quarterback's best friend.

Curry's history as a quarterback must give him a sixth sense because he has a knack for knowing where to go to get open and where a quarterback might look for help.

"I was happy to have him back out there," Russell said. "It was a lot of fun for him and I both. I told him once he got back out there, things were going to be better for him. And they were."

Six of Russell's 15 completions were to Curry.

And to think if Javon Walker wasn't bound for injured reserve, Curry wouldn't be suiting up for games.

*Russell looked as accurate as he has all season at Miami.

"I gave guys a chance to catch the ball, that was the main thing," Russell said. "Put our team in position to make plays that were successful. So I think I did pretty good."

*Greg Knapp said before the season Russell would begin to see things on the field better after eight games.

Russell has played nine games this season and the maturity is starting to show.

"Just since these last five weeks, the difference between him when we started and now is so much better out here (on the practice field) as well as in the classroom," said interim head coach Tom Cable.

Russell is also becoming more of a leader. When Kwame Harris picked up a false start in Miami, the first person to get in Harris' face was Russell.

"I was upset about (the penalty)," Cable said. "At the same time, I'm liking what I'm seeing. That's the leadership you want your quarterback to have. It doesn't matter whether it's the left tackle, or wideout, or back, whoever. It's just the fact that he's in command and he addressed the issue right there. That was great."

*Speaking of Harris, I spoke with him today for a story that will run in tomorrow's paper.

One thing I was interested in was how rotating with Mario Henderson affected him.

He admitted it wasn't something he was ecstatic about. The offensive line is a group that usually doesn't substitute except for injury.

"I don't like coming out of the game," Harris said. "I don't even like coming out of the game when the defense goes in."

Harris said after speaking with Cable, the message was to just relax and play to combat his league-high nine false starts.

His goal is to have no more false starts the rest of the season. You can read more about that when the story runs tomorrow.

*Cable is pleased that Michael Bush has become more agreeable to playing fullback.

Cable spoke of how Bush would add flexibility to the offense by giving the Raiders a legitimate running threat if the Raiders choose to motion the tailback out of the backfield.

Cable added that having Tom Rathman as running backs coach should help Bush. In his nine-year NFL career as a fullback, Rathman had 2020 rushing yards and 2,684 receiving yards.

"To have someone like that with that history and that kind of background, it obviously brings itself to being a positive experience for him," Cable said. "Really the bottom line is Michael sees himself as a runner, so when you ask him to do something that's a little bit different, he doesn't want to feel like, 'Jeez, maybe I can't be a runner at this level.' He can be. It's just a matter of where he is on the depth chart."

But don't expect Bush to be content at fullback, even if Rathman gives him a great pep talk. Rathman averaged only 4.2 attempts a game.

*Here's today's injury summary:

Did not practice
C Jake Grove (calf)
LB Ricky Brown (groin)
CB Chris Johnson (knee)

Johnson is expected to start Sunday. He fell on Wednesday and was held out as a precaution.

T Mario Henderson (back spasms)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle)
QB Andrew Walter (knee)
Russell (ankle)

--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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