The Big Question: JaMarcus Russell

March, 23, 2010
3/23/10
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Can JaMarcus Russell make enough strides in the offseason to compete for Oakland’s starting quarterback job in training camp?

[+] EnlargeJaMarcus Russell
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesJaMarcus Russell will have to prove he can take the reigns in Oakland.
Russell has so much work to do that he will need the entire offseason to fix issues and come into training camp, which could be his last in Oakland, ready to be a starting quarterback.

Russell began his reclamation project in January when he went to Arizona to work with a trainer. Russell’s main goals were to shed weight and work on his fundamentals. He showed up last week during the second day of Oakland’s offseason workout program and reportedly weighed in at 271 pounds.

His listed weight at the start of 2009 was 261 pounds, but we don't know how much he weighed at the end of the season. He did seem to put on weight after he lost his starting job in November, so it's good news for Russell that he weighs 271 pounds now.

Russell’s issues run deeper than his weight. Even if Russell were to show up at 235 pounds, he still must address his fundamentals. He has terrible footwork. He has an atrocious completion percentage -- 48.8 percent in 2009. He stares down his intended receiver. He can’t read defenses. He has a poor work ethic and is not a leader.

Those are major problems, folks. He has to address each shortcoming before camp and I don't think he has enough time. The fact that he is actually trying is commendable, but this is the former No. 1 overall pick. There are no excuses. He already should be much further along than he is.

I don’t think Russell will be ready by training camp and I see him losing the starting job to Bruce Gradkowski -- who ignited the Oakland offense when he took over last fall.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter

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