Thursdays are the days that the Raiders have JaMarcus Russell talk with the press. Besides Mondays, it’s probably the most packed day of the week. Russell fielded questions after the quick walk-through prior to Thursday’s practice, and he was more accountable for his play this season.
“You know, that was mistakes out there. Everybody saw that,” said Russell, who has the 34th ranked quarterback rating of the 35 quarterbacks who have thrown at least 14 passes a game on average. Only Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns is worse.
“Good or bad, take that in stride and learn from it, no matter what it is, and time you go back and put the small things into details, you know, you can just learn from the mistakes and [move] on from them.“
His teammates have seen a change in Russell this week. Charlie Frye brought up the fact that on Wednesday, Russell arrived earlier than he ever had–6:30am. “That’s step one,” said Frye about Russell’s early start time. “The things he continues to need to do is just stay the course and just maybe do a little bit more. If he can do that, I think things will work out.”
This news may be frustrating to some fans as they wonder, ‘what took so long?‘ At least, they can take heart in knowing that it’s usually better late than never. If Russell has turned the corner in his preparation, then it will be time to address any concerns with accuracy or touch.
Greg Ellis hasn’t spent much time talking to Russell, and since his focus is on defense, he also hasn’t spent much time thinking about Russell’s performance as well. “So many people applying pressure on him,” said the veteran defensive lineman. “He just has to be able to look himself in the mirror and say, ‘I’m doing the best that I can do. I’m preparing the right way.’ As long as JaMarcus can do that, he’ll be fine.”
“His skill level is high. God blessed him with a lot of talent. If he does that, does everything, unturns every stone, then eventually he’ll be one of those great quarterbacks in the NFL. On the flip side, if he looks in the mirror and says, ‘I’m really not doing everything I can do to be the best I can be,’ then that’s on him.”
There’s no doubt that Russell understands his accountability to this offense. He expressed that on Thursday, but he also expressed that nobody else is harder on him than himself.
“You are your worst critic,” said the struggling QB. “You can fix things faster than dwell on it, then you can be better. That week is over with, now we kinda focusing on game-planning and getting ready for San Diego.”
What are some of the things he needs to fix? Apparently Russell isn’t as clueless as many have thought. “There’s a lot of things, whether it’s staying on a guy too long, or whatever it is, putting the ball in a better place for a guy to catch or get us into the right checks, a work any small detail that can go for us being perfect.”
What’s important now, besides putting in the extra time at getting better and actually getting better, is that the rest of his teammates also see that he’s doing just that. It’s a strong message for the rest of the team to see that the most criticized guy on the team isn’t backing down from the challenge.
Running back Michael Bush has seen a difference in Russell over the last couple of weeks, and thinks that he’s on the right track. “He’s doing fine,” said the former Louisville standout. “He kind of picked up where he left off last week as far as preparing and practicing for the game, still staying positive so he’s doing OK to me.”
When it comes to Russell’s success, he’ll need to be on the field to attain it. The man who’s decision will either help Russell show the world his talent, or put an end to his time as the starter is Tom Cable. Say what you want about the rookie NFL head coach, but to say he hasn’t been behind Russell all season long would be an unjust characterization.
Cable isn’t perfect, but one thing that he has shown in his brief tenure as head coach, is that he’s going to give players the opportunity to succeed as long as they show him they deserve it. So far, Cable believes that Russell is his best chance to be a winning coach and that he’s worth the patience he’s shown him so far.
When asked on Thursday what he’s seen of Russell recently, Cable had a positive outlook. “I actually see the same demeanor in terms of not letting things get to him but I’ve seen a little more attention to some things, which is good,” said Cable after Thursday’s practice. “He’s in here early, he’s working at it. The fact that he’s had a chance to look at it after Sunday and take some responsibility for those kinds of things. It just adds to his motivation. He’s got to get better.”
Now, Russell will need to show his fans on Sunday, what he’s been learning all week. He understands their disappointment with the team. “I think the fans are fed up,” said the oft-booed quarterback. “It showed the previous week against the Eagles, when they were behind us – and not saying that they wasn’t. But when things are going good, you’re gonna have that. And we just have to get back to the ways that they like.”
Thursday’s practice notes
- Nick Miller (shin), Chaz Schilens (foot), Darren McFadden (knee), Cornell Green (calf), Bruce Gradkowski (illness), Ricky Brown (ankle), and Greg Ellis (knee) did not practice.
- Robert Gallery practiced in limited duty again. He did a little more than yesterday, but Cable wants to see how he’s feeling Friday and what he’s able to do physically before deeming him ready for a game.
- Tony Stewart (chest) also practiced in limited duty.
- Isaiah Ekejiuba and Gerard Warren both practiced fully and should be ready to go for Sunday.
- Louis Murphy (sore hip) and Chris Johnson (sore groin) did not finish practice. Both players have been sore, but their soreness got worse in practice so as a precautionary measure, they were pulled.
- Cable is doubtful that Schilens will play on Sunday.
- McFadden is starting to jog and Cable is hopeful that he’ll begin practicing again next week during the bye.
- Miller’s return could hinge on if he’s ready to start working during the bye week or not. If he’s able to run and sprint then, Cable projects him playing against Kansas City.
- Starting offensive line for Sunday: Mario Henderson, Chris Morris, Samson Satele, Cooper Carlisle, and Khalif Barnes.