Russell to finally start?

JaMarcus Russell

Lane Kiffin switched gears and said Wednesday that rookie quarterback JaMarcus Russell may start against Jacksonville after all. That's news to Russell, who split reps in practice with Josh McCown but welcomes the opportunity to make his first NFL start on the road.

Russell has played sparingly this season, including a brief three-series stint in last week's loss to Indianapolis. A day after the 21-14 defeat, Kiffin acknowledged that Russell would play against the Jaguars but said it was unlikely the rookie would start.

Forty-eight hours later, however, the Raiders appear to be changing their thinking. Kiffin said he's mulling the idea of either starting Russell or having him finish out the game in relief of McCown, rather than flip-flopping both as he did in Russell's previous two appearances.

"We're still looking at it," Kiffin said. "There's something to be said for now going back and forth. I think you saw last week the momentum swing of going with one and then going back. We're weighing all those things. There are a bunch of different ways to do it.

"You want to continue to try to make the situation as best as possible for JaMarcus, and we look for him to play better this week."

Russell wasn't aware of Kiffin's comments but said it doesn't affect how he's approaching the game.

"Not at all because I continue to prepare as if I'm going to play, no matter if I start or not," Russell said. "Whatever his decision is, he's the coach, he's the boss. I'll roll with that."

Both of Russell's previous two appearances have come in Oakland. Sunday's game in Jacksonville will mark the first road game he'll play in since being drafted with the No. 1 overall pick.

"You just have to hone in a lot more," Russell said. "You have to be a lot more simple with the smaller things, as far as the snap count. Always focus on the little things when you go away because it's those guys against you. You only have everybody that you travel with against everybody over there. So pay attention to the small details, the plays and stuff, try to execute as much as you can."

McCown, who has been battling a variety of injuries this year, realizes the Raiders have a vested interest in playing Russell as much as possible over the final two weeks of the regular season.

"I understand he has to get his snaps and all that, he's the future here," McCown said. "As long as there's good situations and good environments for him to be successful that's what I want to see happen so he can have the best and make the most of his opportunity."

Kiffin did say that quarterback Daunte Culpepper, who has started six games this season, is likely done for the year due to his quadriceps injury.

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