ALAMEDA, Calif. (Sept. 18, 2006) -- Aaron Brooks will be sidelined two to four weeks with a strained pectoral muscle, giving the Raiders' starting quarterback job to second-year player Andrew Walter.
Brooks hurt himself after fumbling his second straight snap from center in the first quarter of a 28-6 loss to Baltimore. Originally, the Raiders thought it was a rotator cuff injury, but an MRI showed it was just a muscle strain.
The Raiders have a much-needed bye this week after getting outscored 55-6 in their two losses to open the season. Walter will start Oct. 1 against Cleveland. After that, it will depend on Brooks' health, coach Art Shell said.
"Right now the job is Aaron's," Shell said. "Andrew will come in and fill in and do the best that he can to help us win. That's where we are. I don't want to start, 'If he does this, will we do that?' I don't want to do that right now. If there's a decision to be made down the road then we'll do that. But right now Aaron Brooks is our starting quarterback."
Brooks has had a rough start in his first season in Oakland and hasn't made it through an entire game yet. He was sacked seven times in a 27-0 season-opening loss to San Diego before being pulled in the fourth quarter. He lasted only two drives against the Ravens, not throwing a single pass.
That gave Walter his most extensive action in the NFL since the Raiders took him in the third round in 2005 out of Arizona State. Shell said Walter had an up-and-down performance against the Ravens, but acknowledged it was difficult to get a true read on him because of the constant pressure he was under.
Walter has sacked six times and under pressure from the Ravens numerous others throughout the game. The Raiders have allowed 15 sacks threw two weeks.
"It's difficult to get a feel for them," Shell said of his quarterbacks. "I think we have a feel for what they're capable of doing, if given the time. So we have to have the time for them consistently. It can't be every now and then. It has to be a consistent situation where we're giving them the kind of time that's necessary to get the ball down the field."
Walter put together a few effective drives against the Ravens, leading the Raiders to a pair of field goals for their only points of the season. But he also lost one of his three fumbles and threw three interceptions.
He finished 10 for 27 for 162 yards and has an anemic quarterback rating of 19.0 through two weeks. Walter said his mistakes were "unacceptable," including missing an open Randy Moss in the end zone and committing four turnovers.
"Those are all things that kill you," he said. "They killed us. It's fine moving the ball, but if we don't score any points at the end of the day, it's who scores the most points."
The biggest problem for the Raiders has been on the offensive line. They've struggled to pick up constant blitzes from the Chargers and Ravens. Shell said the coaching staff would use the week off to evaluate the scheme and work on fundamentals with the linemen.
Oakland already is without starting left tackle Robert Gallery, who missed the Ravens game with an injured calf and is questionable against Cleveland. Now their most experienced lineman, left guard Barry Sims, has an injured hip. He was to undergo an MRI and Shell did not know what his status would be.
Oakland has also been without Jerry Porter, last year's leading receiver, for the first two games. Shell has benched Porter, who clashed with his new coach in the offseason and demanded a trade.
Safety Jarrod Cooper was one of a few players who questioned the move in the wake of the two poor offensive performances and said it was time for Shell and Porter to get over their bad blood so the receiver could get back on the field.
Shell wouldn't say when, or if, Porter would play, but downplayed the impact of his absence on the offensive struggles.
"It's not the receivers. That's not the problem," Shell said. "The problem is, giving our quarterback the time to throw the ball, and the problem is, also, once you get the time, making the connection. So, the receivers are not the problem. We got guys that can catch the ball, but we got to make sure that we have an opportunity to get the ball to them."
Shell said the Raiders would consider bringing in a third quarterback to be ready in an emergency while Brooks is sidelined. He said it could be Jeff George, who has not thrown a pass in the NFL since 2001, but spent a week in Raiders camp during the preseason.
For now, Marques Tuiasosopo is the backup and receiver Ronald Curry, who played quarterback in college at North Carolina, would be the emergency third-stringer.