WR Curry questioned Raiders' decision to bench him

Updated: October 30, 2008, 8:15 PM ET
Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ronald Curry lost his starting job two weeks ago, and the veteran wide receiver is wondering if he's being phased out of the Oakland Raiders' plans altogether.

Speaking out for the first time since being replaced in the Raiders' lineup by rookie Chaz Schilens, Curry questioned the team's decision to bench him and believes it's an indication he'll be playing elsewhere in 2009.

Ronald Curry

Curry

"Obviously it hurts, it stings," Curry said earlier this week. "It's like the team gave up on me. You go from playing to getting one or two snaps a game, the decision is being made. I'm going to go out there and continue to work at practice, work at games and once the season's over, the picture's pretty clear."

Curry has been the Raiders' leading receiver each of the past two seasons and last year signed a five-year, $20 million extension that included $8.5 million guaranteed. He was projected to anchor Oakland's receiving corps, but wound up being the first player demoted this season by interim coach Tom Cable.

Heading into Sunday's game against Atlanta, the 29-year-old is tied for sixth on the team with eight catches and is averaging 9.3 yards per catch. He caught a touchdown pass this year in a season-opening loss to Denver but has been shut out of the end zone in seven games since.

Curry's role has diminished to the point where he's playing more on special teams than on offense, a fact the former seventh-round draft pick is struggling to cope with. He also believes he's being made the scapegoat for a passing offense that is ranked 30th in the NFL as the season nears the halfway point.

"I can make plays, I can do the things I've been doing," Curry said. "In the right opportunity, I feel like it could have been a big year for me. But it's a ball control offense. You go out there, you're running a lot. They don't ask the receivers but to make a play here and there. I've got a lot left in the tank.

"Right now we made one change, it was me. So it's like, 'Was it me?' Was it the reason the passing game wasn't going and blah, blah, blah. It's a tough pill to swallow, especially when you go from that to not playing at all. Like I said, the picture's pretty clear. I feel like my past kind of speaks for itself and I've shown that I can make plays and hopefully my talent will be wanted somewhere else."

Cable emphasized his desire to open up the passing game when he took over after Lane Kiffin was fired on Sept. 30, noting that Schilens is better at blocking downfield in a run-oriented offense. He stands by his decision to make the lineup change.

"It's about you going out and producing," Cable said last week. "Everybody here gets paid. Everybody here's a pro. You put that helmet on and go between the lines, you have a job to do, and you're expected to do the job as best you can like any coach or anybody. I just felt like if it's not getting done the way that we see it needs to get done, then you gotta challenge 'em, and the best way to do it is for them to stand and watch."

Curry started to question his situation during the offseason when the Raiders signed free agent receivers Javon Walker and Drew Carter. Walker was given a $55 million contract despite coming off an injury-plagued year, while Carter was quickly penciled in as a starter. When Carter suffered a season-ending knee injury in the final preseason game, Oakland signed San Francisco castoff Ashley Lelie.

That was enough to convince Curry his time in Oakland could be coming to an end. He spent the offseason bulking up and underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in his left foot with the hope of regaining his status as one of the Raiders' go-to players.

Instead, Curry has become an afterthought in Oakland's offense.

"That's probably one of the most disappointing things," he said. "Even when I first came into camp and they kind of slapped me in the face, I did everything Kiffin asked me to do. And when I get to camp they get to playing these games. I'm still doing everything they're asking me to do. It just seems like one big game. But I don't say much, I just go about my business and it seems like I'm an easy target."

With a base salary of $2 million this season -- a number that jumps to $3.5 million in 2009 -- Curry figures he'll be wearing a different uniform next season.

"I make too much money to sit on the bench," Curry said. "I'm sure they're not going to pay me what they're supposed to pay me next year to fill the same role that I'm going to fill next year. I could see if I was still in the mix but you never know. My mind-set, I want to play, I want to be on the field. But just the way the business is I don't see being here next year if this is going to be my role."

Notes

RB Darren McFadden (turf toe) is still wearing a protective boot on his left foot and did not practice Thursday. ... DE Derrick Burgess (triceps strain), LBs Ricky Brown (groin) and Jon Alston, and S Gibril Wilson (toe) were also held out. Backup QB Andrew Walter and S Michael Huff were limited.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press