Raiders move on from Russell era
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The JaMarcus Russell era ended in Oakland two weeks ago when the Raiders released the former No. 1 overall draft pick after just three unproductive seasons.
Raiders coach Tom Cable now wants to look to the future. Speaking after the team's first open practice since making the move, Cable said Wednesday that the organization is moving on and no longer concerned about Russell.
"Let's not talk about someone who is not on our team anymore," Cable said. "It's done, it's over and we have to move forward."
The Raiders did that when they released Russell on May 6, cutting their losses after spending more than $39 million trying to develop him into a franchise quarterback.
Russell won only seven of his 25 career starts, completing 52.1 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions, 15 lost fumbles and a passer rating of 65.2. The poor play combined with the high salary and lofty status as the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft has left Russell near the top of the list when it comes to biggest busts in NFL history.
Newly acquired Jason Campbell, the favorite to take over as the starter this season, said he talked to Russell after the move and offered words of encouragement.
"I told him there are things that happen in professional sports that are out of our control and the only thing you can do is just move forward and don't let anything get you down," Campbell said. "Like I told him, he's still young in his career. I think the thing he has to do in the summer is put the work in, and then when his opportunity comes again just do your best."
Campbell was acquired during the April draft from Washington in a trade for a 2012 fourth-round draft pick. The team showed confidence in Campbell by extending his contract through 2011, giving him a $4.5 million deal for that season on top of the $3.14 million he is owed this season.
Campbell was thrown right into the mix at the team's mandatory minicamp the week after the draft and said he felt much more comfortable this week after having more time to study the offense.
"My main thing right now is just getting a feel for the whole offense, the offensive linemen, what are their set points and receivers, what routes they run the best," he said. "Each guy you're trying to get a feel for. It takes time, it takes a lot of work, but I'm definitely excited about what I'm seeing."
Cable said he saw a big difference in Campbell from the minicamp 2½ weeks ago and likes the way his new quarterback is progressing. Cable is not ready to name a starter from a group that includes Campbell, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and Kyle Boller, saying those decisions will be made in training camp.
Gradkowski is missing the offseason workouts after tearing a pectoral muscle while lifting weights last month. Gradkowski underwent surgery and is expected to be healthy for the start of training camp.
Once there, he will try to win back the job he got after Russell was benched midway through last season. Gradkowski provided an immediate spark, leading comeback wins over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before being sidelined by a knee injury.
Instead of being rewarded with the starting job, Gradkowski once again will have to compete for it. He said he understood the move and that the competition will only be beneficial to the team.
"That's what we're looking forward to," he said. "I'm just looking forward to getting back and competing and knowing the games we had last year, we were fired up and we did some really good things last year. I'm excited to build on that and start out from the beginning."
NotesCable said the team has had no talks about adding free agent WR Terrell Owens. ... WR Chaz Schilens will likely be held out until training camp as he recovers from a left foot injury that sidelined him for eight games last season. ... DE Matt Shaughnessy was out with a strained hamstring. ... Cable said there was nothing new to report on contract talks with DE Richard Seymour, who was designated as the team's franchise player.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press