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Another backup plan: Raiders part ways with veteran QB Garcia

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Quarterback Jeff Garcia, signed during the offseason to push JaMarcus Russell and serve as a mentor to the former No. 1 overall draft pick, was among 22 players let go by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday.

The decision to release Garcia means Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye will head into the regular season as Russell's backups.

Garcia, a 39-year quarterback who has 116 starts in 10 NFL seasons, signed a one-year contract with Oakland in April and acknowledged then that the idea of being a backup was tough to handle, which might have factored into the team's decision to release him.

"There was some talk about how he would fit, but the best way for me to approach it is the other two played so well and we are committed to JaMarcus as our starter," Raiders coach Tom Cable said. "Whether or not (Garcia) was comfortable in a role as a backup, it is what it is."

Oakland also released kick returner Justin Miller, defensive tackle Terdell Sands; safety Jerome Boyd; cornerback Darrick Brown; defensive end Greyson Gunheim; wide receiver Jonathan Holland; offensive tackles Seth Wand and James Marten; linebackers Slade Norris, David Nixon, Morlon Greenwood and Chris O'Neill; fullback Marcel Reece; running back Gary Russell; punter Ricky Schmitt; tight end Darrell Strong; guard Mark Wilson and defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti.

In addition, the Raiders placed center John Wade, cornerback Michael Hawkins and safety Rashad Baker on the waived/injured list.

Garcia missed two weeks of training camp with a sore left calf muscle and didn't play in the Raiders' first preseason game. He returned in mid-August and played sparingly in the preseason, compiling a 67.1 passer rating that was the lowest among Oakland's four quarterbacks.

Following Thursday's 31-21 preseason loss to the Seattle Seahawks in which he went just 3 of 6 for 12 yards, Garcia admitted being uncertain about his status.

"I haven't played a whole lot in the preseason, so I don't think there's ever really a comfortable feeling, especially when there are so many problems to be fixed it seems," Garcia said. "All I can do is give everything I have to give and try to better myself every day and try along the way help my teammates better themselves. That's all I can ask of myself right now."

Cable said the play of Gradkowski and Frye in training camp and in the preseason helped determine Garcia's fate.

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"Both of those guys, Bruce and Charlie, bring a lot to the table in regards to JaMarcus," Cable said. "They understand they have to be there every day and push him just like Jeff would if he was here."

Cable declined to say which of the two would be the Raiders' No. 2 quarterback for the Sept. 14 season opener against the AFC West rival San Diego Chargers.

Miller set a franchise record with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2008 but struggled as a backup cornerback this preseason. His departure likely means rookie Nick Miller will handle the kick-return chores.

The only other surprise among the Raiders' cuts was Wade, a veteran center who signed with the team last season. Wade was expected to push Samson Satele for the starting center job but had missed much of training camp and the preseason with a stinger.

Instead of going with Satele, though, Cable said the Raiders will start Chris Morris at center against the Chargers in the opener. Morris was a seventh-round pick in 2006.

Norris was Oakland's fourth-round pick this season. The team had released sixth-round pick Stryker Sulak before training camp.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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