Russell inching closer

JaMarcus Russell

JaMarcus Russell still might get his first playing time this week against Chicago, but barring a series of injuries it won't be until late in the game.

JaMarcus Russell was named the Raiders' No. 3 quarterback for Sunday's game with the Bears, meaning the team's ways of using him are limited.

Josh McCown will make his second straight start and fifth of the year for Oakland while Daunte Culpepper will serve as his back-up. Russell, who fans chanted for during the loss to Houston last week, will be behind both and serve as the Raiders' emergency quarterback.

According to NFL rules, if a team plays it's No. 3 quarterback before the fourth quarter it cannot use either of the other two quarterbacks ahead of him again unless forced to by injury. If Russell were to enter the game in the fourth quarter, Oakland could still use either McCown or Culpepper if it desired.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said he's continuing to mull the possibilities of when to use Russell this season, if at all.

"I think there's so many different things that go into that, so many different ways to go," Kiffin said Friday. "You can come to a point where you start JaMarcus, you could come to a point where you say we're going to put him in and let him play the second half or say hey, we're going to put him in third drive of the game for two drives."

The Raiders have played it close to the vest all season with Russell, but it's clear the team's fan base and some of the players are anxious to see the rookie quarterback. The schedule doesn't offer Oakland much of a break, either.

After playing Chicago, the team goes to Minnesota and Kansas City before returning home to play Denver. Then Oakland closes out the regular season with a rugged final four stretch: at Green Bay, Indianapolis, at Jacksonville, San Diego.

For his part, Russell continues to keep a calm outlook on things and says he's simply waiting for his opportunity.

"You have a feel for the game and pretty much when coach is going over the game plan he simplifies it enough for everybody," Russell said. "So I kind of feel that if I get thrown in no matter when I'll go out there and play and be ready."

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