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Wednesday, October 29, 2003
Tuiasosopo to start for Raiders at Detroit on Sunday


ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marques Tuiasosopo will start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Detroit in place of the injured Rich Gannon.

Gannon, the reigning NFL MVP, was listed as doubtful Wednesday with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Such an injury could sideline him for several weeks.

"How long it's going to be, I don't know," coach Bill Callahan said. "I'm confident he can get back sooner than later. He's always been a quick healer. ... Rich is a fierce competitor. Nobody, I believe, in football wants to get back to the playing field worse than Rich Gannon."

The 37-year-old Gannon was injured in the Raiders' 17-10 loss to Kansas City on Oct. 20 and hasn't thrown since. He was knocked out of the game in the first half following two sacks by linebacker Shawn Barber and several other hits.

"Marques is a guy who's been with us three years," Callahan said. "He has excellent management of the offense. He knows how to compete, but starting is a different thing. We feel confident in his ability to step in."

Tuiasosopo nearly rallied the Raiders (2-5) to a comeback win against the Chiefs, but fell just short when Tim Brown was tackled on the 1-yard line as time expired. Tuiasosopo was 16-of-28 for 224 yards after replacing Gannon.

Oakland is desperate for a win. The Raiders are reeling in a poor start following their loss to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl last season.

"I'm just fired up to be able to contribute to the team a little bit more and help us win a ballgame," Tuiasosopo said. "I'm just going out there to try to have some fun and try to win. It's been a while. We need to get back on a win streak."

The 24-year-old Tuiasosopo, a seldom-used backup in his third pro season after a stellar college career at Washington, has had extra time taking snaps with the first-team offense because the Raiders were off last week.

Before his Monday night appearance, Tuiasosopo had thrown just six passes all season for the Raiders and 10 in his NFL career. He has been getting advice from Gannon, who refused to talk to reporters again Wednesday.

"It was nice to get some game action so I wouldn't be totally getting all the rust off," Tuiasosopo said. "It'd be nice to get an extra yard so you can give yourselves the chance to win. That was the one bummer about last week. I'm excited to get on the field."

His teammates have confidence in Tuiasosopo.

"He just plays," receiver Jerry Porter said. "He doesn't worry about things. When we came into the game, he said 'Let's get this thing going.' I like the fact he didn't get rattled. ... He had to wait his turn, and now's his time."

Ronald Curry will work as the Raiders' No. 3 quarterback.