Collins: 'This is my team'
If coach Norv Turner gets to a point before the end of the season when he opts to make a switch, Collins is determined to make it a difficult decision. Fans are already chanting "Tui! Tui!" for backup Marques Tuiasosopo.
"This is my team," Collins said Wednesday. "I expect to be in there as long as I'm healthy. And certainly I'll continue to feel that way and give the effort, prepare and play hard on Sundays. This is part of what being a quarterback is about. There are going to be times when things aren't going well and people are going to try to get other people in there. But my program's the same. I handle every situation as professionally as I can."
Collins, who had been enjoying a comeback in his 11th NFL season, got sacked seven times in a 33-21 loss to Miami on Sunday and is trying to block out all the people blaming him for everything that's wrong with the Raiders (4-7).
Things don't appear to get any easier this week for Collins, who will face a San Diego defense that ranks eighth in the NFL with 35 sacks. The Chargers are riding a four-game winning streak after a 23-17 overtime win over Washington.
"There's ebbs and flows to every season. There's good times and bad times," Collins said. "I've never gone through a season when there hasn't been that. Fortunately I've been around long enough to be able to handle those types of swings. It can be tough at times ... but I'll handle this."
The 32-year-old Collins has been sacked 29 times this season but has completed 223-of-406 passes for 2,882 yards and 15 touchdowns while throwing nine interceptions, a steady improvement from his numbers a year ago after he took over after Rich Gannon broke a vertebra in his neck in Week 3.
Collins isn't about to alter his routine -- like scrambling around in the pocket or releasing the ball more quickly -- because that could only lead to more problems. He has studied film from last week and believes the Raiders will make strides against the Chargers.
"The good thing is, we can clean it up," he said. "I can pretty much handle anything that's thrown at me. I'll keep doing the things I'm doing and keep my head held high."
Tuiasosopo, a career backup since the Raiders drafted him out of Washington in 2001, will continue to wait for his chance -- and stick up for Collins, too.
"I still have a job and I've still got to come here and put my time in," he said.
"There's no question it's still Kerry's team. Kerry's played good. There's a lot of things that go into it. He's played well enough to help us win. I think everyone in this locker room would agree that his team goes based on how we all do. Obviously as quarterbacks, we get a lot of praise, too much praise and we probably too much blame. We understand that, and Kerry understands that the best," he said.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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