Mum's the word on Raiders' starting QB for opener against Lions Print
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Wednesday, 05 September 2007 12:35
NFL Headline News

 ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -For an organization that prides itself on secrecy, the Oakland Raiders are having a fun time keeping their starting quarterback from the public.
Coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday he will keep the Detroit Lions guessing whether Josh McCown or Daunte Culpepper will start in the opener Sunday.
``It's simply a matter of always trying to gain a competitive advantage,'' Kiffin said.
Kiffin said he told the quarterbacks who won the job on Tuesday and that the rest of the team found out during practice Wednesday. Like many NFL teams, the Raiders close most of practice to the media, leaving it up to his players to keep the big secret.
``JaMarcus,'' receiver Jerry Porter said when asked who would start, referring to No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell, who is holding out.
Porter later threw out names of various former Raiders quarterbacks, ranging from Vince Evans to Donald Hollis to Jeff George, but wouldn't give up the real answer.
``He's not being secretive with us,'' Porter said. ``He's just not telling you. It's a different situation. In the past, you guys have known who the starter is from Day 1, no competition, no anything.''
But this year the job was wide open from the start of training camp. McCown and Andrew Walter entered as the two players competing for the job, but the Raiders signed Culpepper a week into camp when it became clear Russell wouldn't sign anytime soon.
The three shared time fairly equally for the first three exhibition games, before Kiffin announced the competition had been narrowed down to McCown and Culpepper. Those two got the bulk of the playing time in the final exhibition game, with neither standing out enough to win the job.
Kiffin hinted Tuesday he might reveal his decision the following day, but has decided to keep the secret to force the Lions to prepare for two possible starters.
``If our coaches think this gives us an advantage, then by all means you do it,'' McCown said. ``If it doesn't, then who cares? No big deal, no harm done, other than some family members that wanted to know. Other than that it's no big deal. I'm all for it as long as it can possibly help us.''
McCown admitted he told his wife the decision Tuesday night, but said he hadn't told anybody else. Culpepper wouldn't even acknowledge knowing who the starter will be.
``I don't know the deal. I'm just working,'' Culpepper said. ``I've said from the beginning that no matter what my role, I'm going to help the team as much as I can.''
Both quarterbacks have their strengths, but McCown knows the offense better because he joined the team three months earlier than Culpepper. He also does a better job protecting the football, an important attribute because Kiffin has stressed that he will rely heavily on his defense.
Culpepper has more big-play ability, throwing 39 TD passes in 2004 when he was in Minnesota. He has been slowed by knee injuries the past two seasons, when he has committed 18 turnovers while throwing only 18 TD passes.
The Lions say it really isn't a big deal which QB they face because they know both well. McCown spent last year as a backup in Detroit and Culpepper has played against the Lions and their coach, Rod Marinelli, many times during his career.
``Really it doesn't (matter) in a certain way,'' Marinelli said. ``Why I say that is, both are very good veteran players: both right-handed, both can run the boot, both move around very well, both have great arms, they're savvy veterans. So you prepare for one, you prepare for both.''
The Raiders also have not announced their starting center, with last year's starter Jake Grove competing with former Pro Bowler Jeremy Newberry for the spot.
``You guys will know on Sunday when we go out on the field,'' Newberry said of both spots.
 

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