Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 16, 2009
Who's the starting QB? Who knows...

Ready for a full-blown QB Controversy, Raider Nation? And you thought Jeff Garcia walking out on the eve of the season would have spared the Raiders such a distraction.

Turns out Tom Cable pulling JaMarcus Russell for the second consecutive home game on Sunday and replacing him with Bruce Gradkowski set the stage. And when Cable said he would not announce who his starter against Cincinnati would be until Wednesday, well, you're just waiting with baited breath now, aren't you?

What makes this all the more intriguing is Gradkowski showing up Monday with a (cough, cough) strained hamstring. Strange, Gradkowski did not mention his injury when speaking with reporters Monday morning.

In any event, Cable also sounded high on third-stringer Charlie Frye. And Cable said the decision on the Raiders' starting QB was his, and his alone. Wonder what Al Davis thinks of that.

Cable said he was unaware of Russell's contract - the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 draft is guaranteed $32 million - so that should not be a factor in his decision, which will come after he meets with the quarterbacks and assorted coaches. So what will be the determining factor?

"It will be focused on winning, period," Cable said. "(Who) gives us the best chance to win."

Stay tuned...

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Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis, who underwent bye-week surgeries to both a shoulder and a knee, did not play Sunday as a "gametime decision," Cable said. Rookie Matt Shaughnessy started in his place.

"Played outstanding," Cable said of Shaughnessy. "I have said this before, but every week he just gets better and better and better. Defended the run extremely well, one sack and a couple other hurries. The guy just gets better. He is coached really well. His coach has raised his level and he comes to work every day and he is learning from Richard [Seymour] and Greg [Ellis]. Those guys have been good in terms of teaching him and he is a good football player."

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Gradkowski, on how knowing if he's the starter early in the week helps his preparation: "Yeah, I mean, it's tough, but I think it's easier if you're the guy during (the) week and you've got a whole week to prepare and the whole team knows that. So that's the difference, but in another sense, you've always got to be ready, whenever it may be. That's just the kind of the way I prepare and nothing's ever easy so you've got to be prepared for whatever."

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The Raiders have held a roster spot for injured kick returner Nick Miller all season. And with Jonathan Holland and Johnnie Lee Higgins having less-than-thrilling showings, you'd hope and think the undrafted rookie was healed from his broken right shin. But there was Miller on Sunday, limping around the sidelines with his right foot still in a huge walking boot.

"Again, that's still on-going," Cable said. "Yeah, he's out."

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This should also be decision week on linebacker Ricky Brown and his badly sprained ankle. That is, whether to end his season by putting him on the IR or if he's expected back. He last played on Oct. 11 at the New York Giants.

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Center Samson Satele showed his nimble feet when asked if there was a difference between Russell and Gradkowski.

"I don't know," he said. "That's for the coaches to (decide)...I felt like they did the same thing to me, but I don't know who did it better. If you're asking who did it better, I'm not sure. I did not watch the film yet so I can't answer that."

Asked if he had a preference, Satele shrugged.

"No," he said. "I have nothing. That is (a decision) for Cable to make, or whoever up there."

Satele did, however, say he would support whichever QB is starting on Sunday.

"It is my job to protect the quarterback so whoever is starting, whoever is playing, I am down with," he said.

Diplomacy from an O-lineman? It doesn't get any better than that.

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And finally: how do the Raiders address their woeful 2 for 16 third-down conversion rate?

"Throw and catch," Cable said, matter-of-factly. "We do it all the time. We spend a crazy amount of time on third down. It's just simply, throwing and catching. The protection was really, really good yesterday. There were two sacks. Both of them could have been avoidable. It was work in the pocket, and there were two other hurries the entire. That's unheard of in this league. So, a great job by those guys up front. It showed getting Cornell (Green) and getting Robert (Gallery) back."

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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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