Mirer prepares as Raiders starting quarterback to play Jets

Updated: November 5, 2003, 8:52 PM ET
ESPN

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Two weeks ago, Rick Mirer was preparing to evacuate his San Diego-area home from three wildfires rapidly moving in his direction. Now, he's the Oakland Raiders' third-stringer-turned-starting quarterback, trying to help extinguish all the problems surrounding this fragile franchise.

"I'd like to fit right in and not cause a stir, just function the best I can and get the ball to the right guys," Mirer said Wednesday. "Right now we're just trying to get this thing back on track."

When the reeling Raiders (2-6) play the New York Jets on Sunday, the 33-year-old Mirer will make his first start since 1999 when he started six games for the Jets. Mirer played last Sunday for the first time since appearing in one game for San Francisco three years ago. He went 15-for-28 for 125 yards with two interceptions in place of the injured Marques Tuiasosopo in the Raiders' 23-13 loss at Detroit.

The Raiders placed Tuiasosopo on injured reserve Wednesday with a completely torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee and filled his roster spot with practice squad quarterback Tee Martin. Oakland also signed quarterback Rob Johnson on Tuesday, so either Johnson or Martin will be the backup Sunday.

"I feel sick for Tui because he was going to get a chance to play and he's been waiting for a while to do that, and now it's me," Mirer said. "You just have to believe in yourself. I've been through some hard times -- I've been on top, I've been on the bottom. I've been through the whole thing in 11 years."

Tuiasosopo, a third-year pro, made his first NFL start in place of injured 2002 MVP Rich Gannon, who still hasn't thrown a pass since sustaining a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder during the Raiders' 17-10 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 20.

Gannon isn't expected back for another two weeks, meaning Mirer will remain the starter for now.

"I have so much respect for what Rich has done," the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Mirer said. "To see it last year was amazing to me. In 10 years, I was seeing a different side of football. The way he played and how effective he was every game. I'm not going to try to be him. I'm running those plays and using his guys, but I'm going to try to be me and try to do it the way I can do it best."

The constant changing of quarterbacks has made center Barret Robbins' job all the more challenging -- even if the Raiders are simplifying their game plan to suit Mirer. Robbins said that's just part of football and he has to adjust.

"Obviously he'll be a great deal better and a lot more prepared," Robbins said. "The situation he was put in last week was really tough. He came in and didn't have any doubts about it."

Over the years, Mirer has learned to take things in stride.

He spent the team's bye week at home in Southern California, where he packed up his family's house just in case they were evacuated because of the fires.

"There are other things that happen in your life, too. I've seen it all," he said. "I'm just going to have fun with this."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index