Charlie Frye waited more than a year for another opportunity to start in the NFL. JaMarcus Russell may find himself in a similar boat.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Charlie Frye waited more than a year for another opportunity to start in the NFL. JaMarcus Russell may find himself in a similar boat.
Frye was picked to start at quarterback over former top overall draft pick Russell when the Oakland Raiders visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Coach Tom Cable said Wednesday that Russell will be his No. 2 quarterback, with the newly signed J.P. Losman third.
"As the coach I want to do what I think is best for this team, and that's Charlie Frye," Cable said. "It gives us the best opportunity to win. You watch Charlie every day and his preparation, he just certainly deserves the opportunity."
Frye has not played this year and worked strictly with Oakland's scout team. His last start was for Seattle on Oct. 12, 2008, against Green Bay when he threw for 84 yards and two touchdowns.
Since then, Frye has been trying to revive his career, signing with the Raiders in the offseason and serving as the team's emergency quarterback through the first 13 games.
"It will be good to get back out there with the offense and run some plays that aren't on cards," Frye joked. "I've got a lot of fire in me. I've been that crutch and that supportive guy all season, so now it's my turn to be the fiery leader."
The move raises serious questions about Russell, who started the first nine games of the season before being benched in favor of Bruce Gradkowski before Oakland's Nov. 22 home game against Cincinnati.
Gradkowski led the Raiders to a pair of stirring fourth quarter comebacks against the Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers but tore the MCL in both of his knees last week against Washington.
After replacing Gradkowski in the second half against the Redskins, Russell passed for just 74 yards and failed to move the offense consistently while being booed by the crowd at the Oakland Coliseum.
"I think that's the whole point here, his struggles are out there," Cable said. "It's on film and in the game and those sort of things. Everybody is working to try and help him get better all the time. He's certainly giving back to that, as best he can, and at some point you hope to, as I always say, have a breakthrough and move forward."
Russell was unavailable for comment but said before the game against the Redskins that he still feels he is the Raiders quarterback of the future.
But after getting skipped over in favor of Frye, there's increasing speculation Oakland may be looking to sever its ties with Russell, who signed a six-year contract in 2006 that included more than $30 million in guarantees.
"It's too early for all that," Cable said. "Right now we want to find a way to win these last three games. At this point, this is what we feel, that I feel, is the best thing for us."
Frye impressed Oakland's coaches with attention to detail in meetings and practice. Cable said Frye is comparable to Gradkowski in terms of mobility and style.
"They have great command, they study all the time, they work, they're ultra-prepared," Cable said. "He was here all day yesterday, even before we talked about what we were going to do. That's typical of him. In Charlie Frye's world there is no off day."
Oakland chose not to put Gradkowski on injured reserve and is hopeful he can return to the starting lineup soon.
"It's basically day to day, week to week, but I'm definitely trying to get back for the Cleveland game (on Dec. 27)," Gradkowski said. "That's in my mind, and we'll work hard this week and try to get well."
The Raiders signed free agent Losman, who is a former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills and most recently led the Las Vegas Locomotives to the first United Football League championship.
NOTE: TE Zach Miller, who suffered his second concussion this season after getting hit by Washington linebacker Rocky McIntosh, did not practice and is questionable.