Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski misfired high, wide and low on most of his first-half throws against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. Even so, Raiders coach Tom Cable was encouraged by the fact receivers were open on a regular basis.
"When you look at it on film, it's literally a foot here, a foot there from being a heck of a throw and a great completion," Cable said Friday. "So, if you look at that, that's something that will just naturally get better and better. But that's an exciting part of our team, because you can see it coming now."
By the time Gradkowski's accuracy improved, it was too late for the Raiders to mount a comeback in a 24-7 loss. He completed all five of his passes for 69 yards on Oakland's only scoring drive.
Gradkowski has completed 35 of 69 passes in the two games since he replaced JaMarcus Russell as the starter. That's nothing spectacular, but it's an improvement over Russell.
"There were plays out there to be made early on," Gradkowski said. "We just didn't make them, and I'm disappointed in myself. I missed a couple throws early on that would have given us key first downs."
Cable said Bush's demotion and decreased workload had nothing to do with a fumble against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday and everything to do with the game plan against the Cowboys.
Justin Fargas started against the Cowboys and had 12 carries for 63 yards.
But Ellis' left knee swelled up in the first quarter, and he wasn't able to play much beyond that, even though doctors drained the knee at halftime. Ellis had arthroscopic surgery on the knee Nov. 4.
"Odds are, I probably won't get a chance to come back here and play against those guys," Ellis said, "so I'm just extremely disappointed. I hate (that) we lost, but it bothers me even more I wasn't able to go out there and finish and contribute."
"The character of this team is really too strong," Cable said. "I just feel like we'll go to work every day and put forth the right effort."