Oakland Raiders  

 

Russell reports to Raiders' minicamp, pledges to 'work my tail off'

  • By Associated Press
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The questions about JaMarcus Russell's immediate future in Oakland were answered Friday when he took the field with newly acquired Jason Campbell and the rest of his Raiders teammates for a minicamp.

Still unclear is the former No. 1 overall draft pick's long-term future.

The Raiders acquired Campbell in a trade with the Washington Redskins last weekend, leading to reports that Russell could be cut before training camp or held out of the workouts to avoid an injury.

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But Russell was out there working with fellow quarterbacks Campbell, Charlie Frye and Kyle Boller on Friday as the Raiders held their first formal on-field workout of the offseason.

"My thing is to keep coming out to work until they tell me not to," Russell said. "I'm going to keep coming out to compete for the job and work my tail off."

There were few visible signs about who's the leading contender for the starting quarterback job. Bruce Gradkowski, who replaced Russell as the starter midway through last season, wore a sling after recent surgery for a torn pectoral muscle and watched practice.

Raiders coach Tom Cable reiterated that it's a five-man competition at quarterback. When the team did its first 11-on-11 drills, Frye took the first snaps, followed by Russell, Campbell and Boller.

"Means nothing," Cable said. "Don't look anything into that. If you do, you're wasting ink. There's nothing to that right now."

Russell looked sharper than he did at this time last year, when most of his throws seemed to find the ground instead of a receiver. He made some crisp passes Friday, including a pretty out route to Louis Murphy, and he made few visible mistakes.

Despite reports that he had reached 300 pounds, Russell looked in decent shape, although the Raiders wouldn't say what the quarterback weighed.

"He's been here in the offseason, he's worked," Cable said. "The kid's working his tail off. Let's leave it at that."

During Russell's four-minute interview with the media, team employee Eddie Anderson cut off questions four separate times when the quarterback was asked whether Cable called him after the trade, whether he could be the starter when next season begins, whether he would restructure his contract and what his ideal weight was.

Russell did manage to answer that he hadn't restructured the contract that already has paid him more than $36 million. Russell is guaranteed $3 million more and will have a salary of $9.45 million if he makes the team next season.

Campbell is owed $3.14 million next season, and he signed a $4.5 million extension for 2011 with the Raiders after the deal. That would make Russell a potentially very high-paid backup, leading to the speculation that he wouldn't be on the team when the 2010 season starts.

"I know he's there right now ... I expect him to be there tomorrow," said Cable, who wouldn't commit to Russell for the long term.

Russell was fined for being overweight when he showed up at training camp last season. He then put together one of the worst seasons for an NFL quarterback in recent memory. He completed 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 rating that was the lowest in 11 years. He was benched midway through the season.

Campbell started 52 games for Washington since being a first-round pick in 2005. He has thrown 55 touchdown passes and 38 interceptions, and he has a rating of 82.3 in his career.

Campbell is coming off his best season, completing 64.5 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and a rating of 86.4. But the Redskins went 4-12 last season and acquired Donovan McNabb from the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason.

Campbell told NFL Network after the trade that he believed he was acquired to be the starter, but he kept to the company line Friday.

"I'm just here to work. Just here to work, get better every day," Campbell said. "I'll let Coach Cable make that decision and Mr. Al Davis (the owner). My job is to come out here every day and compete, keep working on things and try to improve the offense."

Russell, who grew up in Alabama, first met Campbell when he was a junior in high school visiting Auburn. Russell said he looks forward to picking Campbell's brain for some pointers and that the two have a good relationship.

"We're teammates," Russell said. "We're not fighting against each other. We're out here to compete and get better for the organization."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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