JaMarcus Russell was throwing tight, rising 100mph fastballs Wednesday, and everybody else was throwing screwballs and forkballs.
There's your instant, incredibly premature June snapshot of the Raiders quarterback situation heading into the 2007 season, and, in this one case, it's all you really need to know.
Raiders 2006 offense: horrendous.
Raiders' other quarterbacks: faceless.
Russell's prospects, from 2007 onward: tremendous.
Who should start the first game of the rest of this franchise's life? Easy call, unless Josh McCown meant to throw all those passes to defenders during the team's voluntary workout Wednesday, and unless you think Al Davis wants to pay Russell $30million in guaranteed cash to watch other people play.
Raiders Coach Lane Kiffin won't commit to the No.1 overall pick in this spring's draft just yet, but it's so obvious.
Barring major complications between now and September - or a surprise acquisition, like, say, Daunte Culpepper - with every easy 30-yard flick Russell is showing that he will and must be the Raiders' starting quarterback right away.
"It is (a possibility)," Russell said of starting Week1. "It can be. It depends on how much the coach throws at you. If you want to be that guy, it's going to take a lot for you to get everything down to start.
"Because... man... things are fast."
But... man, Russell looks good in the backfield.
He's raw, no doubt; he bobbled one snap and slipped and fell while dropping back on another. He has to learn to read NFL defenses and learn to throw while 290-pound defensive ends blow past his linemen.
But, really, didn't Aaron Brooks do that practically every play last season? Wouldn't you rather see Russell try his hand?
Though Russell probably never will be as vocal or as demanding as Tom Brady, at 21, he carries his massive, 6-foot-6 frame with agility and a surprising degree of poise.
Russell was quiet and confident in every drill, and everybody else was... well, everybody else was McCown (wobble, wobble), Andrew Walter (knee surgery, off the premises), Josh Booty and Jeff Otis.
Russell almost impaled Jerry Porter with one pass, threw another so hard that it ricocheted 15 yards off rookie Oren O'Neal's hands, and lasered a couple of 20-yard in-route passes to Travis Taylor.
"I think I'm doing pretty good," Russell said. "All the stuff that they're throwing at me, I'm picking it up day by day."
Near the end of the workout, Kiffin set up a four-minute drill, when the Raiders offense had to protect a lead and try to run out the clock - a drill that, of course, was not necessary last year.
Kiffin spent a great deal of the period talking to Russell, pulling him aside, just endeavoring to teach him how to lead an offense in crucial situations.
"He's different than a lot of guys," Kiffin said. "But he gets his point across, and players follow him. That was evident in being down (at Louisiana State) and being around the guys that he played with down there.
"And it's already happened here a little bit. Guys do respect him for the way that he works and they respect him for the way he is. He's just not vocal about it, and that's fine."
I asked Russell if he senses that his teammates are watching his every move - he already knows fans and reporters are doing that - and he laughed and smiled. "A lot of guys do, because they've been hearing about `cannon arm,' this and that. A lot of guys want to see if it's real."
It's real. It's definitely real. But Russell suggested that it's the work ethic, not the cannon, that will do most of his persuading.
It's already happening. During one drill, before offensive coordinator Greg Knapp could start yelling, Russell turned around and angrily told O'Neal to get himself over to the correct side of the formation.
O'Neal immediately did just that, and the play commenced.
"I just come out and try my best," Russell said. "I do my best work out here. Guys see that I'm busting my butt and guys look up to you for that."
So, will Russell win the starting job in training camp?
I think Sept.9, against the Detroit Lions, will be the time. If Kiffin has to scale down the offensive package just a bit, no matter.
They need Russell. They desperately need him. He's there. It'd be silly to conclude anything else after watching all those fastballs.
From here: http://www.mercurynews.com/raidershe...nclick_check=1