Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

March 16, 2010
Russell shows up for voluntary workouts slimmer, perhaps wiser?

Give JaMarcus Russell an "E" for effort.

Or at least for finally showing some semblance of common sense.

The embattled former No. 1 overall pick, who turned fans and teammates against him last season with his lackadaisical approach to the game, a growing midsection and horrid on-field performance before being benched, showed up at the Raiders' Alameda compound Tuesday for voluntary workouts.

Big deal, you crow? A purported franchise quarterback SHOULD be at all team functions, voluntary or not? Indeed. But this is how far Russell has lowered the bar, that his showing up for a voluntary workout is actually news. Or that he seems to have dropped some weight.

The Raiders are not making anyone available to the media during these closed workouts, which are little more than glorified weight-lifting and running sessions.

Still, "He does look a bit better than (the) end of last season," a source who saw Russell in Alameda today told me.

He won't resemble Stephen Curry anytime soon, but at least he doesn't look like JaMarcus Russell, circa December, 2009.

This whole JaMarcus-has-seen-the-light storyline grew legs when the purportedly retired Willie Brown went on CSN Bay Area's "Chronicle Live" show Monday afternoon and told host Greg Papa, who is also the radio "Voice of the Raiders," Russell has been working out in Arizona, watching his diet and shedding pounds.

But Russell was not at the first day of voluntary workouts Monday, prompting an anonymous starter to call him "a horror show" and another to warn "don't hold your breath" for him to show up, to Blanco of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brown said Russell was home in Alabama, trying to close his house.

Making things more interesting - Charlie Frye has signed his "original draft pick" tender and is also in Alameda, working out alongside the People's QB, Bruce Gradkowski. And remember, coach Tom Cable has insisted the starting quarterback job is an open competition.

Maybe I'm giving Russell too much credit here. Maybe his showing up is not about common sense; maybe it's simply about that most primal of instincts - survival.

In any event, here's hoping Russell got a clue from last year's mess. Otherwise, the Raiders would be wise to cut him and eat the remainder of that six-year, $61-million contract ($31.5 million guaranteed) they signed him to in 2007. He is reportedly owed a base salary of $9.45 million in 2010.

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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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