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Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Raiders offense struggles early in preseason

Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Randy Moss is complaining, the offense is stagnating and Aaron Brooks has been unable to move the ball.

With the season opener less than four weeks away, the Oakland Raiders are searching for answers at quarterback.

Moss was visibly upset after going unseen while open in the end zone on the first possession. He said after the game the team did not show much improvement between the first two preseason games.

"I don't see it. Hell, no, I don't see it," Moss said. "But what we're doing as far as practice, it seems that way in practice, but when we get to the games, it doesn't seem like we're moving in the right direction."

Brooks, signed as a free agent in the offseason to replace Kerry Collins, has looked more like the struggling quarterback who was benched in New Orleans last season than the big-play passer he used to be.

"We need better production out of the quarterback position overall," coach Art Shell said Tuesday. "It's not just Aaron. We need better production out of everybody. I think Aaron would be the first to tell you that he's not satisfied with his production at all. He needs to get better and I hope he will get better."

In two exhibition games, Brooks, Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo have combined to complete 23 of 58 passes for 321 yards, four interceptions and two touchdowns. They have also been sacked 10 times.

Walter, who threw for the team's only touchdown in a 16-13 victory over Minnesota on Monday night, drew praise from Shell despite throwing two interceptions. He could get a shot with the first team before the preseason is over.

With Brooks on the field in the first two exhibition games, the Raiders have gained just 62 yards on 29 plays. Oakland has had only four first downs on his three drives and gotten into the end zone once. Brooks is just 2-for-9 for 28 yards with one TD and one interception.

Moss also expressed frustration about being pulled in the middle of a drive after making his first catch of the preseason in the second quarter. Shell said that his star receiver had been in long enough and said there was no need to talk to Moss about the comments.

"I made a decision to take him out," Shell said. "There was a time frame I had for him to play and that time frame had come. It was time to get him out of there."

The Raiders struggled to fully utilize Moss last season in his first year in Oakland, contributing to the decision to fire coach Norv Turner and cut Collins.

They signed Brooks to a two-year free agent deal worth more than $8 million because of the big-play ability he showed at times in New Orleans. In his first four full years as a starter, Brooks threw for more than 3,500 yards each season and had 98 touchdown passes and 61 interceptions in that span.

He struggled mightily last season, completing just 55.7 percent of his passes, throwing 17 interceptions and 13 TD passes before losing his starting job after 13 games.

The Raiders brought in Brooks to be a bridge to Walter, a third-round pick in 2005. Oakland thinks so highly of Walter that the team passed up the chance to draft Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler in April.

Walter showed signs why the Raiders believe in him with a 67-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Morant on Monday. But he also threw the two interceptions, drawing an angry stare from his coach after one of them. Walter is 13-for-29 for 194 yards so far this preseason.

"Those two mistakes that he made are things we have to work on," Shell said. "We will first ask what did he see and we'll explain to him why he shouldn't have gone in those directions. Having said that, I thought he was much better in the pocket."