JaMarcus Russell Is Slowly Developing into a Leader

Gil BecerraCorrespondent IJune 18, 2009

Finally, Oakland Raider fans get to hear something we haven't heard in Oakland since Rich Gannon left: JaMarcus Russell is gathering his teammates (wide receivers and tight ends) for a week of private workouts.

Here's two links that repeat the information.



We all know how well he handled the media and criticism last year: He did a great job. He never blamed teammates for missing assignments or the coaching staff for being unstable and having three play callers in one season. That's where it slowly began.

Once mini-camps and OTAs began this year, it was highly noted that JaMarcus was off with his throws. He was seen hitting guys in the shoes, missing them by five yards, or getting deflections. It was May and early June though, so you can expect rust from most players.

He slowly began to show his displeasure when making mistakes. He'd yell out four-letter words when he'd fumble a snap. You would be able to see the frustration in his body language when he'd make bad throws.

JaMarcus is a calm, laid-back guy. He would never show any emotion when things were going bad. People took his laid-back attitude as him not caring, which is not true. He doesn't have to be the "rah rah" guy like Phillip Rivers is in San Diego.

Tom Cable has asked JaMarcus to start working harder by coming in earlier and staying later. He went as far as to make comments at the owners' meetings in March trying to encourage the hard work.

This is a question Cable was asked at those meetings:

Q: What kind of person is he? Does he want to be good?

A: "Oh yeah. He's very driven. I think he's a very passionate guy. He's certainly very motivated to not be a failure, to not be the kid from Mobile that couldn't get it done. All the hoopla, all the this and that, he doesn't want to be that. He wants to be the guy, and he's very driven."

Paul Hackett was brought in to help JaMarcus with his footwork and teach him how to be a better QB. Jon Gruden has praised Hackett as a great teacher, and we'll find out if that is true during the year.

Fast forward to April, a couple of weeks later, to find out the Raiders signed veteran QB Jeff Garcia. It was always mentioned that he was here to mentor JaMarcus. Garcia is from Gilroy, CA, and this would be a perfect place for him to finish his career—close to home. He's an insurance policy in case of injury.

With Garcia breathing down his neck during mini-camp and OTAs, we've seen JaMarcus answer back.

Time and time again fans write about how Garcia would be our best option to win. He's 39, JaMarcus is 23; our future is JaMarcus. Heck, even a recently signed veteran safety (May 21, 2009) from the Dallas Cowboys said Garcia would be the team's best option.

It doesn't really matter if one or all of these things combined were what caused JaMarcus to change, but it did. I'm excited—very excited.

They have a month to work things out and a week to work with each other before the finished product is seen in July at training camp.

Beware Raider haters: JaMarcus is ready to show you why he was the No. 1 overall pick.