ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marques Tuiasosopo probably will get his shot as Oakland's starting quarterback this week.
Coach Norv Turner is leaning toward demoting the struggling Kerry Collins and plans to make his final decision before the Raiders
take the practice field Wednesday to prepare for the lowly New York Jets -- though it sure seems Turner has all but made up his mind.
The coach already spoke to Collins about the potential change for Sunday's road game.
"I wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't something we're
considering strongly," Turner said Monday on the heels of the
Raiders' second straight defeat and fourth loss in five games,
34-10 at San Diego.
"We're going to look at the quarterback situation and say,
'Hey, is it time to look at Tui?' With his mobility, would that
The 26-year-old Tuiasosopo has been a backup since the Raiders
drafted him out of Washington in 2001. He started one game in 2003
in place of injured 2002 MVP Rich Gannon, but hurt his knee during
Oakland's third offensive series on a hard hit by Boss Bailey in a
23-13 loss at Detroit and hasn't played in a regular-season game
Tuiasosopo planned to relax by playing the guitar Monday night
to take his mind off Turner's decision.
"I definitely feel like I have a better chance," Tuiasosopo
said. "That's always exciting. I'll lay low for a couple more days
and obviously on Wednesday we'll all know and I'll go on from
there. ... I wouldn't approach it any different. There are no added
expectations, no added pressure. When I was playing in college, I'd
go out and play. Pressure is a lot of things that have nothing to
do with football. I love to play football and I love to go out to
compete to win."
This preseason, Tuiasosopo threw for 343 yards and completed 29
of his 44 passes with four interceptions and no touchdowns. He has
been taking snaps with the first-team offense at times and is more
athletic than Collins, allowing him to move more in the pocket.
The fans have been calling for him to get an opportunity for
weeks now, chanting "Tui! Tui!" when the offense takes the field.
"I have nothing to say about it," receiver Jerry Porter said
about the situation. "No matter who's the quarterback, I'll be OK.
I've been with Marques all five years he's been here."
After a promising start to the season, the 32-year-old Collins
has lately found himself facing constant questions -- just like his
mistake-prone year last season -- about the Raiders' ineffective
"That's a tough one," left tackle Barry Sims said of the
possible QB move. "I don't think Kerry's played in a way that
suggests that he should be replaced, but at the same time, Tui's
been here a long time, and hardly played at all. It would be
interesting to see how he handles himself, but I don't think that
Kerry should be replaced by any means. I think he's the
quarterback, and it's his job. I think you can't pin the whole loss
Collins has completed 245 of his 446 passes for 3,118 yards and
16 touchdowns, but he has thrown 10 interceptions and been sacked
32 times for 194 lost yards.
His recent struggles have been surprising after his strong start
in his first full season as starter. Collins didn't throw an
interception until his 141st pass in Week 5 against San Diego, then
didn't give up another pick for 95 more attempts. Seven of his 10
interceptions have come in the past four games, including three in
a 31-17 home loss to Denver on Nov. 13.
"It's been a variety of things," Collins said after Sunday's
game. "Certainly, I take as much responsibility as anybody. It
seems like it's been different things at different times, where the
players get penalties or non-execution. Like I said, I'm not going
to point fingers. I know that I didn't live up to the expectations
I had for myself this season."
Turner isn't about to name a quarterback for the final four
games, meaning Collins potentially could be benched this week and
get another chance.
"Kerry wants to play," Turner said. "He's a competitor. He's
a strong guy. He gives everything he's got. There's no question he
wants to continue to play, and I appreciate that."