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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Gruden supports Russell

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Former Oakland and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden -- who will be part of ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcast team -- chimed in on the quarterback situation in Oakland on SIRIUS NFL Radio.

Gruden believes the Raiders need to go with JaMarcus Russell instead of Jeff Garcia to start the season.

"I think they gotta go with JaMarcus Russell," Gruden said. "He's the No. 1 pick in the draft. They've added Paul Hackett who I think is an outstanding coach. He's a tremendous quarterbacks coach. No one talks about the addition of Paul Hackett. I think he's going to really reach out and help JaMarcus Russell. But they've got a lot invested in him. This is only his third season. This is the time where JaMarcus Russell has to explode onto the scene. Hopefully [Darren] McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, some of his young support system, can help him, because he does have great ability throwing the football."

Garcia played for Gruden in Tampa Bay last season. He belives Garcia will give Russell competition, which will only help the youngster.

"(Garcia is) premier competitor and I think that's the No. 1 criteria that you have to have to survive in the NFL at that position," Gruden said. "You have to be a premier competitor. Garcia is that. And if you look at Jeff's career in the history of this game, he protects the ball as good or better than anybody that's ever played. He's one of the top four or five all-time in not turning the football over. And I think that's one thing that Jeff Garcia always brings to you, is a guy that will protect the football. It might frustrate you at times."