Raiders consider giving rookie quarterback his first NFL start against Jacksonville Print
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Thursday, 20 December 2007 14:25
NFL Headline News

 ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Whether Oakland rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell makes his first NFL start Sunday or not, he isn't too concerned about his role against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
``Not at all because I continue to prepare as if I'm going to play, no matter if I start or not,'' Russell said Thursday. ``Whatever (Lane Kiffin's) decision is, he's the coach, he's the boss. I'll roll with that.''
Earlier this week Kiffin said that Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, would definitely play against the Jaguars but probably wouldn't start. Kiffin later switched gears and told reporters that the team was considering letting Russell, who has made only two brief appearances this season, start in Jacksonville.
But despite growing sentiment in support of the idea from fans, media and players inside Oakland's locker room, the Raiders have yet to finalize their plans.
``Exactly how it will play out, I don't know that,'' Kiffin said Thursday. ``But both guys will play and hopefully JaMarcus will play for an extended amount of time.''
Oakland has taken a methodical and careful approach with Russell after its prized first-round draft pick missed all of training camp and the preseason while locked in contract negotiations. He has played in only five series this year, two against Denver and three in last week's 21-14 loss to Indianapolis. Both times, Russell relieved McCown in the second quarter but failed to engineer scoring drives.
Overall, the former LSU star is 6-of-12 for 66 yards with a 66.7 rating.
Given that the Raiders aren't in the playoff hunt and with McCown set to be a free agent in the offseason, several writers and even some Oakland players have suggested the team make Russell its starter for the final two games in anticipation of getting him ready to take the job full time next season.
Kiffin acknowledged the logic in that approach, but reiterated that the Raiders want to keep using Russell in situations where he can excel to protect his confidence. The plan, according to Kiffin, is to either start Russell and let McCown finish or go with McCown as the starter and allow Russell to close out the game against the Jaguars.
``He may end up (starting), maybe this week, maybe next week,'' Kiffin said. ``It's something to be talked about. There are good things about that. There are other things as well, too. Sometimes it's easier to come in after you get a feel for what's going on.''
In addition to having Russell come in on his normal day off to work with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo - a trend that began in September - the Raiders have increased Russell's workload in practice. He and McCown took almost equal snaps with Oakland's first-team offense Thursday, leaving Andrew Walter to handle the scout team chores.
Regardless of whether he starts, Sunday's game will mark the first time Russell has played in a road game since entering the NFL.
``You just have to hone in a lot more,'' Russell said. ``You have to be a lot more simple with the smaller things, as far as the snap count. Always focus on the little things when you go away because it's those guys against you. You only have everybody that you travel with against everybody over there. So pay attention to the small details, the plays and stuff, and try to execute as much as you can.''
Notes: Backup center Jake Grove was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. ... Safety Rashad Baker, who was released by New England earlier this week, was signed to take Grove's roster spot.
 

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