Skip to main content

Gradkowski's excitement doesn't divert him from task at hand

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Bruce Gradkowski's excitement over being appointed the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback didn't last long. The journeyman backup, having seen the team already make one change after just six quarters, realizes there isn't much job security.

Gradkowski on Thursday worked through his second full practice since coach Tom Cable picked him to replace Jason Campbell as the Raiders' starter.

The promotion capped a 10-month stretch during which Gradkowski suffered two season-ending knee injuries, tore a pectoral muscle, then watched as Oakland cut former No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, traded for Campbell and immediately named him the starter on the eve of training camp.

Despite receiving reassurance from Cable otherwise, Gradkowski isn't taking anything for granted.

"No matter what Coach said, you just never know," Gradkowski said. "Winning's the name of the game, and if I'm not getting it done, I'm sure he's going to try to find someone else who will. You just have to respect that."

It's the quickest non-injury-related quarterback change the Raiders have made since returning to Northern California in 1995. Aaron Brooks was replaced by Andrew Walter in Week 2 during the 2006 season after injuring his throwing shoulder.

This is nothing new to Gradkowski. He came off the bench to replace Russell midway through last season and led the Raiders to wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers in his first three starts before suffering the season-ending knee injuries in Week 14.

That made Gradkowski somewhat of a folk hero in Oakland, where fans had grown bitter because of Russell's poor performances and lackadaisical attitude. In four starts, Gradkowski passed for 844 yards and six touchdowns with one interception. His 89.7 passer rating as a starter was easily tops among the three quarterbacks Oakland used last season.

Just as quickly as his popularity with the Raiders was taking off, Gradkowski was injured. The misfortune continued during the offseason when Gradkowski tore a pec muscle while lifting weights, shelving him for most of the Raiders' offseason workouts.

That was followed by a groin injury, suffered early in camp, that cost Gradkowski two weeks, giving Oakland more reason to go with Campbell as the starter.

"Last year was last year, and you've got to get it done this year," Gradkowski said. "Coach Cable sat us down and told us the news, and I was excited. But the excitement ends right there. I really haven't done nothing, in my mind."

While Gradkowski answered questions about the quarterback change at a podium adjacent to one of the team's three practice fields, Campbell politely declined to be interviewed when approached inside the Raiders' locker room.

"I can't talk to you guys," Campbell said. "I would, but (the Raiders) asked me not to."

For more on the Oakland Raiders, check out the latest from our bloggers.

Campbell, whom Raiders owner Al Davis compared to two-time Super Bowl winner Jim Plunkett shortly after the April trade with the Washington Redskins, has a 61.9 completion percentage this season, but he passed for just 267 yards and led only one touchdown drive in 1½ games. He also was sacked six times, a key issue given Oakland's pass-protection problems.

Cable cited the energy that Gradkowski brought to the Raiders' huddle as a factor in making the change and said the quarterback's handling of his own health issues over the last year increased his popularity in the locker room.

"What it does more than anything, it earns the respect of your teammates, to battle through all those things and still stand tall," Cable said. "He didn't panic. He was very disappointed ... but the thing about Bruce is whatever curveball you throw at him, he just takes it and keeps pushing."

Notes: The Raiders added rookie Quentin Scott and re-signed S Stevie Brown to their practice squad. To make room, they cut LB Slade Norris. ... LG Robert Gallery (hamstring) didn't practice and is questionable to play Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, Cable said. WR Chaz Schilens (foot), LB Travis Goethel (back) and DT John Henderson (foot) also are questionable. S Michael Huff (headache) was limited, but RB Michael Bush (broken thumb) and DT Richard Seymour (hamstring) didn't have any restrictions.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.