The Broncos are four days away from facing the Raiders and they’re still no closer to solving the starting quarterback mystery in Oakland. Will it be Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell or Kyle Boller?
The Raiders couldn’t tell you either.
“We have no idea at this point,” Raiders Head Coach Tom Cable said in conference call on Wednesday.
Cable said on Monday that he might have to play third-stringer Boller, whom the team signed from St. Louis before the season. Injuries ailing Gradkowski and Campbell could keep them out of Sunday’s game, but Cable will scrutinize his passers in practice on Wednesday before he makes a decision for Sunday.
“I don’t know really when we’ll have something definitive,” Cable said.”Hopefully tomorrow, but today we’ll learn a lot, so we’ll see.”
If there is a positive the Raiders can take out of their quarterback conundrum, it’s that their indecision forces the Broncos to triple their preparation.
“We never know who we might see,” Jason Hunter said. “You just have to have your game plan for all three of them.”
Boller has yet to see his first regular-season action for the Raiders, but he threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns in three preseason games.
Campbell started Oakland’s first two games, but Cable gave him the hook at halftime in Week 2 in favor of Gradkowski, who directed a win against St. Louis. When Gradkowski went down early in Week 5, Campbell came in the game and led the team to victory over the Chargers.
The former first-round pick of the Redskins led two touchdown drives to help beat the Chargers, but his team also returned a fumble and a blocked punt for a touchdown, proving a point hammered home by Head Coach Josh McDaniels.
“I’m sure that they would like — like most organizations and coaches would like — to have a stable situation there at quarterback,” McDaniels said. “But it’s a team that is so dangerous because they can really beat you in any phase in the game. It doesn’t necessarily have to be throwing the ball, they can beat you running it, they can beat you on defense, they can beat you in the kicking game.”
To that point, the tandem of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush have led the Raiders to the NFL’s tenth-ranked rushing attack despite a passing offense in the bottom half of the league.
Only 15 runners have more rushing yards than McFadden even though the third-year back missed the past two games with injury. In a conference call on Wednesday, he said he’ll practice this week in hopes of playing in Denver.
McDaniels said the ground game in Oakland takes precedent over whoever might line up under center. An imposing rushing attack that enables the play-action pass defines the Oakland offense.
“It won’t change their offense, I don’t think,” McDaniels said. “That is their philosophy (and) that’s their style. They are very good at doing it, and I don’t expect it is going to change dramatically, no matter who the quarterback is.”
-Gabe Hiatt, DenverBroncos.com
Below are photos from Wednesday’s practice: