Russell, the No. 1 overall draft pick in April, had been brought along slowly after missing all of training camp and the exhibition season in a contract dispute. He signed a deal that guaranteed him at least $29 million three days after the season opener.
Russell has been working mostly with the scout team and in extra practice sessions designed to help him catch up. Russell got some work with the first team this week because of a quadriceps injury to starter Daunte Culpepper.
Coach Lane Kiffin said recently that he wanted to use Russell for a few series at a time at first, to keep him out of difficult situations like the two-minute drill. By making him the second-string quarterback against the Broncos, Kiffin was able to make that happen this week.
Russell entered to a standing ovation with 13:48 remaining in the second quarter and completed a 16-yard pass to Jerry Porter on his first play.
By NFL rules, if the No. 3 quarterback plays before the fourth quarter, the first two quarterbacks aren't allowed back into the game. Andrew Walter was the third quarterback.
Josh McCown started at quarterback for Oakland and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Tim Dwight on the game's opening drive.
Culpepper missed much of practice this week with a sore right quadriceps and was on the inactive list for this game because of the injury. That gave McCown his sixth start off the season and first since Nov. 11 against Chicago despite having two dislocated joints in his non-throwing left pinkie.
Running back Dominic Rhodes was also inactive for Oakland. One of the team's top offseason free-agent signings, Rhodes has seen little time as Justin Fargas has seized most of running opportunities.
Denver running back Andre Hall, who rushed for 98 yards last week against Chicago despite a high ankle sprain, was inactive. Travis Henry returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an injured left knee.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press