Turner won't make an official announcement until Wednesday but it's expected
that Tuiasosopo will get the call to make just the second start of his five-year
NFL career. A second-round draft pick in 2001, Tuiasosopo has just eight games
of experience playing in the regular season, completing 28 of 49 attempts for
Collins, Oakland's starter since taking over in Week 3 of 2004 when Rich
Gannon suffered a broken neck, has been the target of criticism all season
despite putting up numbers that left him on pace to set career-highs in passing
yards and touchdowns.
What Collins lacked was wins. In 25 games with Collins as the starting
quarterback the Raiders are just 7-18, an incredible drop-off from the team's
Super Bowl run just three years ago.
Again, how much of that is Collins' fault is up for debate. In 2004 Collins
and the offense played well enough to win but were derailed by a defense that
surrendered far too many points and big plays. This season it's been a plethora
of problems, from questionable play-calling to a lack of protection from the
offensive line to Collins' inconsistency.
All of it pointed to a shakeup at some point. That time appears now.
Had a change come last week Tuiasosopo might have been able to void the final
year of his contract with the Raiders and enter the free agent market. Instead,
Tuiasosopo will be hard-pressed to reach the incentives needed to activate the
void even if he starts Oakland's final four games.
Still, it's a move the franchise had to make.
The season is obviously over so the team has to find something to cull from
the final month on the schedule. A four-game evaluation fo Tuiasosopo -- still
largely an unknown on the NFL level -- is a good way to begin.
''Obviously there are things Tui does differently than Kerry,'' Turner said,
alluding to Tuiasosopo's ability to scramble. ''I think it is something that
we're thinking about and a certain something we have to consider, and we'll take
it from there.''