Sports

Raiders QB still mystery

ALAMEDA -- When a question was asked of receiver Jerry Porter assuming he wouldn't say who the Raiders' starting quarterback is, he revealed the starter.

"JaMarcus (Russell)," Porter said, referring to the Raiders' unsigned first overall draft pick.

Porter later offered up Raider quarterbacks of greater vintage such as Jay Schroeder, Vince Evans, Jeff George and Donald Hollas as potential starters.

Unless you're a Raider, the message is: The starting quarterback in none of your business.

The gag order remains on and the Raiders are as secretive as ever about the biggest question hovering above them.

There's also the question of whether Jake Grove or Jeremy Newberry will start at center, but no one seems to care.

Asked again why he won't announce a starting quarterback like the other 31 teams in the NFL, Kiffin told a reporter, "Because I don't want to tell you."

Kiffin has told the quarterbacks who will start and hopes Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper and the rest of the players can keep a secret until Sunday's season opener against Detroit, "but I doubt it will last that long."

It's the first real test of one of Kiffin's team rules: Protect the team. The others require players be early and not complain. Protecting the team means protecting the secret of the starting quarterback.

"We have rules that we work by and that we live by within our team and everybody understands them," McCown said. "With that being said and everybody respects them, obviously I expect that they can keep a secret."

If Kiffin is looking for a competitive advantage by not naming a starting quarterback, one person who isn't afraid is his counterpart for Sunday's season opener.

Whether it's McCown or Culpepper doesn't matter to Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli.

"Both are very good veteran players," Marinelli said. "Both right-handed, both can run the boot(leg), both move around very well, both have great arms, they're savvy veterans. So, you prepare for one, you prepare for both."

Perhaps Detroit's starting quarterback, Jon Kitna, summed it up best.

"I guess it would be a little different if it was, 'Aw, we're not sure if it's Mike Vick or Matt Schaub starting,' two totally different quarterbacks starting," he said.

And with Andrew Walter out of the Raiders' equation as a starter, the Lions are preparing for two quarterbacks they know very well.

McCown played for Detroit last year, so there's probably nothing he could do Sunday that would surprise Marinelli. And in the old NFC Central when Marinelli was an assistant coach for Tampa Bay, he went against Culpepper's Minnesota Vikings.

Kiffin said there is no league rule that mandates he announce a starter, but noted in the college ranks another coach who was mum on his starting quarterback didn't have much success in his opener.

"It didn't work for (Notre Dame's) Charlie Weis," Kiffin said.

Meanwhile, all remains quiet on the Russell front. Russell's agents have asked for $35 million to get the Raiders' offer near $31 million fully guaranteed and protected.

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