JaMarcus Russell's Raiders teammates remain steadfast in their belief that he is just going through a rough stretch and that he remains the best option at quarterback for a team that has lacked a proven one since Rich Gannon retired after the 2004 season.
"He's fine," defensive end Jay Richardson said Wednesday. "He's a confident guy. He's understanding work ethic and what it takes to be a No. 1 quarterback. He's getting there. We all have confidence in him and confidence in our scheme and what we're doing. We'll be fine."
Left offensive tackle Mario Henderson said his confidence in Russell is as high now as it was at the start of the season and that how well a quarterback plays goes hand in hand with how the 10 other guys on the field perform.
Coach Tom Cable yanked Russell in the first half of Sunday's 38-0 loss to the New York Jets after two interceptions, one lost fumble and zero points. Less than 24 hours later, Cable said Russell had a clear understanding of what went into the benching and what is expected of him from here on out.
The Raiders don't have much choice but to keep him behind center. They're tied to Russell for the foreseeable future because of his status as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2007 draft, a contract that guaranteed Russell $32 million and because they lack a better option with Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye backing up.
Russell is the league's lowest-rated passer and owner of the worst completion
Others aren't as convinced by Russell's weekly insistence that his inconsistent play has as much to do with poor route-running, dropped passes and the whims inherent in the game of football as his own ineptitude.
However, Russell's ability to look past a bad play or a poor performance is something that endears him to Cable. Russell says he takes everything in stride, moves on to the next play and functions with the belief that good times are just around the corner.
But this is the first time Russell has experienced being benched.
Running back Michael Bush said he is hopeful Russell turns his latest setback into a positive experience.
"It depends on him, depends on how he looks at it," Bush said. "Like Cable said, he's still our guy, and we're going to get behind him the whole way."
Richardson, who lost his starting job to Trevor Scott during training camp, said being benched is something every player must learn to handle at some point in his NFL career.
"Everybody's been benched," Richardson said. "I've been benched before. We've all had to face some adversity and try to figure out how to get the ship right and get back out there. He'll be fine."
Gradkowski replaced Russell against the Jets, but he's been benched before, so he understands the situation.
"JaMarcus handled it well, and I liked the way he handled it," Gradkowski said. "I'm there for him when he's there, and he was there for me (Sunday) when I went in. It's a good feeling, knowing we have each other's back, because no matter what happens in the course of a game, we're just trying to win the game."
Winless Bucs replace Josh Johnson with Josh Freeman at quarterback. Page 2