ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While the Oakland Raiders struggled through yet another loss, three of the players who were supposed to be among the team's most dynamic playmakers could only watch.
JaMarcus Russell could only make suggestions, not deep throws, while standing on the sideline with a banged-up knee during Oakland's 17-6 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Darren McFadden was dressed in street clothes, still nursing a turf toe injury that has ruined his rookie season that seemed so promising after a 164-yard rushing performance against Kansas City in his second NFL game.
Derrick Burgess sat out his fifth straight game with a triceps injury that has cost the Raiders (2-7) their biggest pass-rushing threat and the leader of their defensive line.
"We got to find a way to get Derrick Burgess back out and get Darren McFadden back out," interim coach Tom Cable said Monday. "Two guys who we think can give us a boost on both sides of the ball. We're not making any plays on offense in terms of a playmaker, an explosive-type play. We have to hopefully get those guys back as soon as possible and hopefully this is the week for Darren to be back."
Russell's injury was initially described by the team as tendinitis when he left practice early last Thursday. Now Cable and Russell say he also has a bone bruise on his right knee that actually is causing more problems than the tendinitis.
Russell tested his right knee in pregame warmups, but was unable to go, forcing Andrew Walter to make his first start in nearly two years.
"It was a matter of myself being able to be mobile," Russell said. "I felt it was too much pain, trying to drop back and push off of it and plant on it. So I didn't want to put my team in harm's way."
While Russell had struggled in recent weeks, going 6-for-19 for 31 yards and an interception and four sacks in a 24-0 loss to Atlanta on Nov. 2, Walter didn't fare much better.
Walter was 14-for-32 for 143 yards and two interceptions against the Panthers, extending Oakland's drought without a touchdown to more than nine quarters.
"I just never witnessed a game on the sidelines where I couldn't go out there and help," Russell said. "I wanted to be out there in any shape, form or fashion to help my guys try to pull the game out."
That's the same feeling McFadden has had the past three weeks, as he has sat out with the turf toe injury. McFadden was slowed early in the season by a turf toe injury on his right foot but has been unable to play after getting the same injury on his left foot.
"It's very hard to watch," he said. "This is my first time my whole football career that I've had to miss games. So for me to have to sit over there and watch during the game, it's really painful for me."
McFadden said he would not take a cortisone shot to ease the pain and get back on the field, saying the one he took before the game at Buffalo on Sept. 21 only made his toe feel worse.
"When the injury first happened, I was under the impression like, I need to be out there playing," he said. "I want to go out there and play, I know a lot of people are depending on me. But as I get out there and it's steadily getting worse and worse, it's not doing them any good, or doing me any good."
McFadden and Russell were given more than $55 million in guaranteed money after being top 5 picks in the past two drafts.
But they have been unable to transform a Raiders offense that right now is performing even worse than the 2006 model under coach Art Shell and coordinator Tom Walsh that was widely ridiculed.
In the five games since Tom Cable took over for the fired Lane Kiffin and coordinator Greg Knapp began calling plays, Oakland is averaging 228 yards per game, while scoring two touchdowns and 35 points.
In the first five games of the Shell-Walsh era, the Raiders averaged 229 yards per game, while scoring four touchdowns and 50 points.
"I've got to manufacture some ways to score," Cable said. "I like the players we got. Are we getting them in the best position to do it? That's really what I've been looking at."
Notes: C Jake Grove will miss at least this week's game at Miami with a calf injury. John Wade will start in his place. ... Johnnie Lee Higgins could lose his job as returner after fumbling the opening kickoff and having just 17 yards on seven punt returns. Michael Waddell, Rashad Baker and Michael Bush all will get a shot at returning.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press