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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Here are some random Raiders thoughts as they come out of their bye week and prepare to begin the Tom Cable era in New Orleans on Sunday:
All eyes will be on quarterback JaMarcus Russell. This is a key time for the quarterback. Expect him to get a chance to show off his cannon arm more the rest of the season, beginning Sunday.
Former Oakland coach Lane Kiffin, who still keeps in touch with the quarterback, kept a short leash on him. Kiffin wanted to slowly develop the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 draft. And since the Oakland receivers aren't exactly Hall of Famers, Kiffin was reluctant to have Russell air it out.
He has thrown just 10 passes of 21 yards or more. He has completed one. Expect new coach Tom Cable and offensive Greg Knapp, who will now be the primary playcaller, to let Russell throw the ball far more often.
It will be interesting to see the results. A lot is expected from Russell and now he may get the chance to show he can take advantage of his big arm.
While Russell will likely throw longer passes, he will also have his full complement of running back as well. Justin Fargas is expected to be the starting running back in New Orleans after missing the past two games with a groin injury. Also, rookie Darren McFadden is healing well from a turf toe injury he suffered in Week 2. They also have Michael Bush in the backfield.
The Raiders are ranked third in the NFL in rushing yardage, averaging 155 yards a game. Having Fargas and McFadden healthy is only going to help the running game as a whole and in turn help Russell.
My thoughts on Russell telling reporters Wednesday that Kiffin called him Monday night to discuss the Saints' game?
I'm not sure.
It is kind of cool in a sense that Kiffin still cares about his former quarterback. But I can also see where those in the Raiders' organization would not be thrilled with it. But in the end, it's good that Kiffin has kept up with his former players and it is clear he wants to see them do well. After all, these two men were closely connected every day for a year and a half.
Finally, it looks like defensive end Derrick Burgess will miss his second straight day of practice with a triceps injury. If Burgess can't practice Friday he likely won't play against the Saints. The Raiders are going to need Burgess' pass-rushing presence as they try to tame Saints' quarterback Drew Brees, who is as hot as any quarterback in the league.