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Gradkowski wrests Raiders' starting QB job from Campbell

  • By Associated Press
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Five months after acquiring Jason Campbell to be their starting quarterback, the Oakland Raiders benched him in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, beginning with this week's game at Arizona.

Raiders coach Tom Cable announced the switch after practice Wednesday, hoping the spark that Gradkowski provided in the second half of last weekend's 16-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams can carry over the rest of the season.

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"The reasons are pretty simple," Cable said. "First and foremost is the energy and the level of intensity that was brought into the huddle when he came into the game. The way the guys responded around him. And, obviously, scoring points. ... That's what we're about. If we can get this thing to where we can score 24 points a game, I think we'll be very tough to beat."

The Raiders (1-1) acquired Campbell from the Washington Redskins during the April draft in exchange a 2012 fourth-round pick. Campbell already had a $3.14 million contract for this season and was given a $4.5 million extension for 2011 after the trade.

Oakland released draft bust JaMarcus Russell shortly after the deal and officially pronounced Campbell the starter before training camp opened in July. He lasted just six quarters as starter, being benched at halftime last Sunday.

Campbell has completed 30 of 52 passes for 267 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions this season. He also has been sacked six times.

Raiders players weren't available for comment after the decision was made. However, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he wasn't concerned about hurting Campbell's confidence with the change.

"We're all grown men," Jackson said. "We're all big boys here. Obviously, people get discouraged, get disappointed. I understand that. I get discouraged and disappointed, too, but the bottom line is there's a job to be done. There's a job to be done, and the job has to be done to the best of our ability."

Jackson said he went to Cable at halftime last week with the Raiders trailing 7-3 and suggested the switch at quarterback. Cable said the staff had talked earlier in the week about needing better quarterback play. He went ahead with it, and Gradkowski rallied Oakland to the victory.

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After consulting with his coaches this week, Cable announced the switch Wednesday.

"When we did it, obviously, it was the right decision. It worked, and then as we talked about it here the last couple of days and came to a decision this morning," Cable said. "Again, we've made it, and there's no issues or controversies or anything like that. The decision's been made."

Cable said Raiders owner Al Davis wasn't involved in the decision.

Gradkowski never had a chance to compete for the job, missing the offseason program with a torn pectoral muscle. He missed the first two preseason games with a groin injury, but he played well in the final two and was clearly the people's choice, with fans chanting, "Bruuuuce!" before the switch was made in the home opener.

Gradkowski led the Raiders to 13 points in his first four drives, completing 11 of 22 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown with one interception.

"The thing that stood out to me is the same people, same day, same defense, same opponent, same people in the huddle with you, didn't change the plan, and yet we were able to go out and move the ball and score some points," Cable said. "He'll go in there and do the job. It's his now. Where we go from here, obviously, will be decided by how well he plays."

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Gradkowski replaced Russell midway through last season and won two of his first three starts, beating the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was hurt late in the first half of his fourth start and missed the rest of the season with knee injuries.

Gradkowski, in his time in Oakland, has shown the ability to avoid sacks and get the ball to the wide receivers. He completed five passes each to starting receivers Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey for 138 yards and one touchdown in the win over the Rams. The duo had just seven catches for 72 yards in three halves with Campbell.

Although his arm isn't as strong as Campbell's, Gradkowski was better able to get the ball down field. He completed 4 of 8 passes that went more than 10 yards downfield, for 79 yards, according to STATS LLC. Campbell was just 3 of 14 for 69 yards on those throws.

Notes: DT Richard Seymour, who missed last week's game with a hamstring injury, said he will be ready to play this week. ... RB Michael Bush (broken left thumb) fully participated in practice and could play this weekend. ... OL Robert Gallery is still sidelined by his hamstring injury that forced him to sit out last Sunday. ... The Raiders re-signed OL Eric Pears to fill the roster spot of S Stevie Brown, who was released Tuesday but could come back on the practice squad.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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