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Raiders bench Collins, will start Tuiasosopo

ALAMEDA, Calif. (Dec. 7, 2005) -- Marques Tuiasosopo will start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who benched veteran Kerry Collins.

With no postseason to play for, the Raiders (4-8) are casting an eye toward the future. Oakland coach Norv Turner gave Tuiasosopo the nod and announced he will start Dec. 11 on the road against the New York Jets.

"It means a lot," said Tuiasosopo, whose lone NFL start came in 2003. "I am excited to get out and play and, with the rest of these guys in the locker room, find a way to win a ballgame this week. That's what I am most excited about."

Tuiasosopo, a second-round pick in 2001, has played in only eight NFL games.

Turner hinted earlier in the week a change might be made. Collins has the third-most passing yards in the league this season but has generated only four victories, who were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss last week at San Diego.

Collins played well early in the season but has struggled the last month. After suffering only one interception in Oakland's first six games, Collins has been picked off seven times in four weeks.

Despite several offseason moves, including the acquisitions of wide receiver Randy Moss and running back LaMont Jordan, the Raiders have been a disappointment on offense this season. Oakland will miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season after playing in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Collins, signed as a free agent before last season, has taken the brunt of criticism for the Raiders' poor record. In each of Oakland's previous three home games the quarterback was booed heavily by fans, who repeatedly chanted for Turner to put Tuiasosopo in the lineup.

"I'm not happy about it," said Collins, who will be Oakland's No. 2 quarterback against the Jets. "I feel like this is my team. I feel like I give us the best chance to win Sunday. ... Having said that, I respect what Norv decided to do and I'll help Tui any way I can."

Tuiasosopo's only NFL start was two years ago against the Detroit Lions. He filled in for injured Rich Gannon, but that outing lasted less than a half because Tuiasosopo sustained a season-ending injury to his left knee.

Turner said this move was made to spark Oakland's struggling offense and to get an extended look at Tuiasosopo.

"Kerry hasn't performed as well as I'd like," Turner said. "There's things he knows he can do better, things I know he can do better. We need to see Tui play. Where we are right now in terms of the things we're doing best on offense and where we're struggling, I think Tui can help us there with his movement."

Tuiasosopo has one year remaining on the contract he originally signed as a rookie and is eligible for free agency in 2007. Collins is earning the veteran's minimum salary this season but will be due millions in base pay, roster bonus and incentives next season if he remains in Oakland.

"I am going to just go out and play and hopefully my play will do all the talking," Tuiasosopo said. "I am not worried about the future now. I am worried about this weekend and getting ready and helping this team by having the best chance of winning."

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