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On second thought: Raiders QB Russell acknowledges mistakes

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- After further review, JaMarcus Russell acknowledges that he did make some mistakes before being pulled from a game for the first time in his life.

After Russell turned over the ball three times during the first quarter of the Oakland Raiders' 38-0 loss to the New York Jets last Sunday, Russell said he didn't feel like he made any bad reads or decisions in the game.

The Raiders' quarterback addressed the media Thursday for the first time since then and said there were "mistakes out there. Everybody saw that. Good or bad, take that in stride and learn from it."

Russell lost a fumble on the first play from scrimmage after lining the team up in the wrong formation. He threw an interception on the third possession by flinging a ball in an area with no receivers, and he had a pass picked off in the end zone on the next drive when he heaved a ball up for grabs on first down.

"There's a lot of things, whether it's staying on a guy too long, or whatever it is, putting the ball in a better place for a guy to catch or get us into the right checks," Russell said.

Russell has been far from perfect this season, completing just 46.3 percent of his throws, with two touchdowns, eight interceptions and five lost fumbles for the NFL's second-worst passer rating at 47.2

The Raiders' offense has been inept the past five weeks, scoring just 29 points and two touchdowns in losing four of five games, with much of the heat falling on Russell. The fans who have bothered to show up at Raiders games have booed him mercilessly, commentators have ripped him and coach Tom Cable finally benched him in the second quarter last week.

"We still have a lot of football to go," Russell said. "Just clean up some things within ourselves. It's going to be OK, I promise. Just take my word. ... Just take my word that things are going to get better. I can't tell you when, but I know they are."

Russell was replaced by Bruce Gradkowski last week, but Cable said the former No. 1 overall draft pick would remain the starter this Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Russell said he tried to put in extra time this week for preparation. Backup Charlie Frye said Russell arrived at the Raiders' facility at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday -- the earliest he has seen him there all year.

"I've seen a little more attention to some things, which is good," Cable said. "He's in here early, he's working at it. The fact that he's had a chance to look at it after Sunday and take some responsibility for those kinds of things, it just adds to his motivation. He's got to get better."

Russell did take time out to go to the Golden State Warriors' season opener Wednesday night, watching the game against the Houston Rockets from courtside seats.

"What I do in my personal life is not really what's going on here," Russell said. "So now you're trying to tell me I can't go enjoy my life. I want to go see those guys play. That was just something in my off time I wanted to do. I don't think that was bad."

Russell has been criticized in the past by Cable for not being a hard-enough worker, with the coach saying his young quarterback is still learning what it takes to be a franchise player in the NFL.

Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis has talked to Russell a bit this week to try to boost his spirits but said the quarterback might be receiving advice from too many people at once. Ellis said the key for success is in Russell's control.

"He just has to be able to look himself in the mirror and say, 'I'm doing the best that I can do. I'm preparing the right way,'" Ellis said. "As long as JaMarcus can do that, he'll be fine. His skill level is high. God blessed him with a lot of talent. If he does that, does everything, unturns every stone, then eventually he'll be one of those great quarterbacks in the NFL. On the flip side, if he looks in the mirror and says, 'I'm really not doing everything I can do to be the best I can be,' then that's on him."

Notes: WR Chaz Schilens, who was expected to return from a foot injury last week, seems unlikely to make his season debut this week after missing his second consecutive practice. ... WR Louis Murphy (hip) and CB Chris Johnson (groin) didn't finish practice and will be reevaluated.

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