Is JaMarcus Russell Ready To Take the Next Step?

Raiders head coach Tom Cable thinks his team is ready to take the next step towards becoming that playoff team that they want to be.

Trouble for him and his team is that the season is over, so they will have to wait until the 2010 season to prove whatever it is he thinks they can prove.

It was troubling times in 2009 for the future of the franchise, quarterback JaMarcus Russell. He lost two people who were close to him in a matter of months.

The losses of his loved ones were sandwiched right between coming off a great six-game stretch at the end of the season in 2008 where his passer rating hit a whopping 92.5 with a completion percentage of 64.6…and the start of the 2009 offseason activities.

Yet, Russell was strapped with the burden of carrying forward trying to help a franchise turn around with their 5th head coach in a seven year period. It was a franchise that had just succumbed to their sixth straight 11 or more loss season.

A 24 year-old, three-year pro QB, who the fans were not about to cut any slack. To add to the pressure, his favorite wide receiver, Chaz Schilens was injured during the second week of training camp, sidelined with a broken foot.

Russell was not alone, but his hopes must have been dwindling when during a game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs, when offensive line leader Robert Gallery went down with a broken tibia.

Now without his favorite wide receiver and best offensive lineman, with two starting rookie wide receivers and a banged up Johnny Lee Higgins (hurt opening night by a crushing Eric Weddle hit), the Raiders “Face of the Franchise” was really under pressure.

Sure it didn’t help that Russell reportedly came to spring drills overweight, showed up late for meetings, and was getting paid far more than most of us will see in our lifetime that year, but nevertheless, it surely was not fun to be in his shoes last yea...

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