JaMarcus Russell Is Ready as Oakland Raiders Promise To Pass

M VHCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2008

orig posted at: http://raidernationstation.com/2008_pre_season 

The Raiders will take a page from the Tennessee Titans this Saturday and use the opportunity to test their passing game against the Cardinals. Hopefully with much better results.

The Titans' Vince Young looked bad against a dinged-up Raiders secondary and a D-line that couldn’t generate a pass rush without the blitz, even thought the Titans were without their starting left tackle.

As it stands, the Raiders are ranked No. 2 overall in rushing so far this preseason and fans hope that that's a sign of things to come during the regular season.

With Darren McFadden and Michael Bush on the roster, that's a distinct possibility.

Today's practice emphasized the Raiders' plan against the Cards, with JaMarcus and Andrew Walter throwing the ball effectively, completing 22 of 25 at one point in defenderless route drills.

The only drops came from Johnnie Lee Higgins (two) and Javon Walker (one).

Things looked better in practice, but game day will be more of a test, especially since the Cards know it's coming. Still, Coach Kiffin wants to see where the Raiders' passing game is.

"I want to see how much we can do with our first unit throwing the ball so it will be a good test for us."

There were drops later in the afternoon by TEs Zach Miller and John Madsen, but more troubling was WR Drew Carter, who shined early on in camp, but has been erratic of late.

Receiver Todd Watkins will be one to watch, as he vies for a roster slot. He has also looked good in practice, but the live-fire test will show if it translates to game day.

Rookie Chaz Schillens has been breathing down his neck though, and it could be a toss-up as to who gets one of the precious roster spots.

Both should have a chance to prove their meddle this weekend.

About the Raiders' pass-heavy practice Kiffin stated:

"It was better. Early on it was a little bit shaky again, but not as many plays today either. We’ll see. I’ve got a positive outlook on this week, and I think they’re going to perform really well."

Wideout Ronald Curry has struggled of late in practice but looked better today, making several good grabs from Russell.

He’s likely to play third receiver against Arizona.

Walker has publicly struggled since donning the Silver and Black, and Coach Kiffin thinks this game could be big for him and the Raiders' hopes for the passing game this season.

"Javon hasn’t had a very good week. It’s going to be a big game for him," Kiffin said. "It’s preseason, but it’s the most important game, the game being the third, he’ll play a lot, and hopefully we’ll get him the ball a number of times and he’ll make some plays for us."

As for a reunion with former USC and current Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart, who got the nod for the starter spot earlier this week, Kiffin said he planned a big welcome.

"We’re going to go old school Buddy Ryan, as they call it around here, and we’ll come after him every snap and put a bounty in the locker room on him,"

Totally kidding of course, but it will be interesting to see if the blitzes Oakland has been throwing at "rookie" JaMarcus Russell to prepare him carry over to the regular season.

Fans lamented Rob Ryan’s vanilla defense last year, and Oakland did send some LB and DB blitzes against the Titans' Vince Young to great effect.

The Raiders practiced, despite the passing of an NFL and Raider legend on Wednesday night.

Executive director of the NFLPA, Hall of Famer, and father Gene Upshaw passed away quietly at his Lake Tahoe home of pancreatic cancer.

No word if the Raiders will honor him with a ceremony or with the traditional player number sticker on their helmets, but they should.

In fact, ALL NFL players should since Upshaw was a major player in brokering a deal that gave players nearly 60 percent of all revenue generated.

That figure was nearly $4.6 billion paid out to players last year alone.