Two games into the preseason and the Oakland Raiders (1-1) look ready to move beyond getting JaMarcus Russell signed as Daunte Culpepper has looked like the frontrunner for the starting quarterback job.
In both games, Culpepper has gone 11 for 20 with 153 yards and two touchdown passes. Although he has fewer pass attempts than his counterparts Josh McCown (13 for 26, 139 yards) and Andrew Walter (17 for 27, 128 yards and ONE touchdown), he has been far more efficient despite coming off the bench.
Culpepper, who signed as a free agent last month, has even shown glimpses of the dual-threat quarterback he used to be as he let loose for a 13-yard run in last week’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
However, he does have to take better care of the ball behind center. Although he has not thrown an interception, he does have four combined fumbles in both games.
It’s enough to give Raider fans some concern but after last season’s dismal 2-14 campaign, Culpepper appears to be a suitable upgrade at quarterback until Russell gets suited up.
Speaking of Russell, he still remains unsigned two weeks away from the season opener. Reports are that negotiations have stalled as his agent is seeking a guaranteed signing bonus of at least $30 million while the Raiders are unprepared to offer it without adding certain stipulations.
The main stipulation is the team being able to reclaim some of the guaranteed money if Russell violates any team rules. With both sides nowhere near agreement, the focus has shifted to how the team is performing on the field.
Offensively, the team looks in sync so far as they have stayed close in both games. Fourth-year running back Adimchinobe Echemandu (21 carries, 93 yards) and former USC star Justin Fargas (17 carries, 54 yards) have handled most of the rushing load.
Last season’s starter, Lamont Jordan (eight carries, 67 yards), has also performed well, breaking loose for a 32-yard run against San Francisco last week.
On defense, third-year linebacker Ricky Brown has looked impressive with 13 tackles (10 solo) while third year cornerback Hiram Eugene has contributed with 6 tackles as well an interception return for a 36-yard touchdown in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.
The Raiders host the St. Louis Rams on Friday in their second-to-last preseason game.