Oakland Raiders  

 

Cable not ready to announce Raiders' QB plan for Week 3

  • By Associated Press
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable made one declaration about his starting quarterback Monday, one day after backup Bruce Gradkowski relieved Jason Campbell and rallied the team to a victory -- and it wasn't about who will start this week.

"There isn't going to be a controversy," Cable said. "I'll make a good decision, the right decision, and we'll go from there."

Cable said he had a good idea of what he planned to do, but he would wait until Wednesday before revealing his decision about who would start for the Raiders (1-1) in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Cable said having two capable quarterbacks was a good problem to deal with after Oakland struggled to find anyone capable of leading the team for much of the past two seasons when JaMarcus Russell was the starter.

"We have a good issue here. We're not going to let it be a negative or make it a negative," Cable said. "The bottom line here is we've got two guys we think can play. We'll do what we think is best for our team. If we need to make a switch again down the road -- we're going to need them both, probably need all three of them before the year's over with the way this league is. I like where we're at."

Cable said he would consult with his assistants on the decision.

Cable made the move to the backup much earlier this season than a year ago with Russell. The coach waited until the seventh game to pull Russell for the first time and didn't make the switch to Gradkowski as starter until the 10th game of the season.

Raiders owner Al Davis allowed Cable to make that call last year. Cable said it's important that the coach has the final decision.

"I think it has to be," he said. "When you sit in the chair I do, you have to be able to go out and coach your team and make your decisions and do those things. If you don't, I think you put yourself in a bind."

Neither Gradkowski nor Campbell were in the locker room during the open media period Monday, so they didn't address the quarterback situation.


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After the game, Gradkowski made it clear that he wants to be the starter.

"In my mind, I am the starter," he said Sunday. "But that's how you have to approach it. If you're the backup, if you're the third stringer, no matter who you are. We don't play this game to be backups. We play this game to be starters in this league and win championships, and that's what we're here to do."

Just as he did last year when he led the Raiders to victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers, Gradkowski has provided a needed spark to a stagnant offense.

After the Raiders scored 16 points in the first six quarters of the season, Gradkowski led Oakland to 13 points on its first four drives with him at the helm. His mere presence in the huddle appears to do something to the energy level of his teammates.

"It's just Bruce," wide receiver Louis Murphy said. "That's just the way Bruce is. He's just high-wired and really amped. He's very intense. It's just Bruce."

Despite standing just 6-foot-1 and lacking the strongest arm, Gradkowski has shown an ability to make plays during his brief opportunities with the Raiders.

Since joining the Raiders last season, Gradkowski has done the best job of any of their quarterbacks of getting the ball to the wide receivers. That was especially evident Sunday. He completed five passes each to Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey for 138 yards and one touchdown. The duo had just seven catches for 72 yards in three halves with Campbell.

Gradkowski also is able to use his mobility to help out an offensive line that has had trouble pass protecting. Gradkowski wasn't sacked once on his 22 pass attempts, but Campbell has been brought down six times in 52 pass attempts.


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That also was the pattern last year as Gradkowski has been sacked on about 6 percent of his dropbacks, compared to more than 10 percent for Oakland's other quarterbacks during his tenure.

"He finds ways to make plays. He has guys in his face, getting hit, put on his back, but he's still getting the ball out," tight end Zach Miller said. "Even if he's just throwing it away, he's saving us sacks. He's really able to make plays under pressure and find a way to get first downs. It's a good quality in a quarterback."

The Raiders topped 400 yards of offense for the first time in nearly five years and earned a much-needed win, but there still were plenty of signs of concern after winning by just two points at home against a team that has lost 27 of 28 games.

Oakland managed only one touchdown on four trips inside the St. Louis 20-yard line. Five other trips inside the Rams' 40 netted just three more points.

The Raiders were stopped on a fourth-and-1 inside the St. Louis 10, settled for two field goals after going inside the 20, then had other drives thwarted by penalties or turnovers.

"We're happy, but we know we have a lot of room to improve, especially offensively," Miller said. "We left a lot of points out there. We need to go back to work and make sure when we get down that close to the red zone, that close to the end zone, we score a lot of points."

Notes: Cable used rookie Jared Veldheer and Mario Henderson at left tackle on a rotation basis and plans to do so until one clearly plays better than the other. ... RB Michael Bush has had the stitches removed from his broken left thumb and will enter this week believing he will be healthy enough to play for the first time this season. ... FB Luke Lawton was cut after his suspension for the first two games of the season expired.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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