Boller relishing opportunity with Raiders
NAPA, Calif. (AP)
With Bruce Gradkowski nursing a lingering sore groin and Charlie Frye out after undergoing wrist surgery Wednesday, coach Tom Cable is still adjusting his quarterback rotation for Saturday's preseason game at Chicago.
Boller played nearly three quarters in Oakland's 17-7 win over Dallas last week after replacing starter Jason Campbell early in the second quarter. The former Cal star, who was buried on the depth chart when he signed with the Raiders in April, directed two fourth-quarter scoring drives against the Cowboys.
''It will be kind of similar to last week,'' Boller said following the Raiders' lone practice Wednesday. ''It doesn't matter if you're one, two or three. I've been in this business long enough to know that you're a play away from being in there, so I've always taken the approach to prepare like a starter. You have to be ready when you're opportunity comes.''
Opportunities have been rare for Boller over the past several seasons after entering the NFL as Baltimore's first-round draft pick in 2003. He started all 16 games for the Ravens in 2004 but has played in only 21 games since.
A shoulder injury in the preseason two years ago sidelined Boller for the entire '08 season. He signed with St. Louis before last season but fell out of favor after committing two costly turnovers, both of which were returned for touchdowns, in a Week 4 loss to San Francisco.
Now he's in Oakland, less than 20 minutes from where he played in college. He's also reunited with Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who was his quarterbacks coach in Baltimore.
''I have a great relationship with Hue and I really like the way he coaches,'' Boller said. ''I love this offense, I think this is a great offense.''
Boller's comfort level was evident when he played against the Cowboys last week. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown while garnering a 94.9 rating.
During a four-play series in Wednesday's practice, Boller again looked sharp while throwing two touchdown passes to tight end Zach Miller and a third to wide receiver Todd Watkins.
''He understands what (Jackson is) looking for, what he's asking for,'' Cable said. ''I think that helps him being able to step in and have some confidence right from the beginning. The game against Dallas speaks for itself, and he'll get another opportunity this weekend to see if he can consistently do that.''
Campbell is likely to play longer than he did against the Cowboys and could possibly stay in the entire first half. That would leave Boller and Brennan to handle what's left.
Brennan, released by the Washington Redskins on Aug. 2 and signed by Oakland five days later, did not play in the Raiders' preseason opener but will ''probably'' play against Chicago, according to Cable.
Gradkowski, who will likely battle Boller for the No. 2 spot behind Campbell once he's fully recovered from the groin injury, is almost certain to sit out a second straight week. Gradkowski was limited in practice Wednesday and did not take part in any team drills. ''Bruce is really, really close, but I want to give him the opportunity to be as close to 100 percent if not 100 percent before he goes in a game,'' Cable said.
That leaves Boller as Campbell's main backup for now.
''I really feel like this last week being able to get a lot more reps,'' Boller said. ''You can sit in a room and look at a board all you want but until you get the reps I feel more and more comfortable each day. I definitely think in the last week I've gotten a lot more comfortable.''
Notes: RT Langston Walker was given the day off but is expected to play against Chicago. Erik Pears worked with the first-team offense in Walker's absence. ... DE Jay Richardson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is likely to miss the remainder of camp. ... Second-year TE Brandon Myers left practice to get X-rays after jamming his finger while trying to catch a pass. ... Oft-injured RB Darren McFadden (hamstring) will not play against the Bears.