Quarterback JaMarcus Russell isn’t discouraged by being benched during his third season with the Raiders.
“We all have road bumps in our life and this just happens to be one bump,” he told reporters Dec. 10 at Raiders headquarters in Alameda, Calif., his first public comments since losing the starting job to Bruce Gradkowski in mid-November.
"It's not the end of the world. There's better days to come. Just move on from it."
Russell, the top pick in the 2007 NFL draft, said his benching was “embarrassing.”
“At first, it was very embarrassing to get pulled out,” he told reporters. “I think that would be for anybody. I kind of took it, sat down and thought about it, just prayed about the situation.”
Russell, right, had thrown only two touchdown passes and nine interceptions at the time of his demotion. He has completed 46.8 percent of his passes this season and has a passer rating of 47.7, both league worsts. Gradkowski has a 54.5 completion percentage and an 80.2 passer rating.
In 28 NFL career games, Russell has completed 51.6 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, 14 lost fumbles and a passer rating of 65.5. He had started 25 of 26 games before being benched the week of an Oakland home game against Cincinnati on Nov. 22.
The Raiders are 7-18 with Russell as a starter the past two plus seasons.
Asked if he deserved being demoted, Russell told reporters:
"I wouldn't say that. ... But I guess coach wanted to go in a different direction."
The Raiders have a 2-1 record with Gradkowski, who has engineered comeback wins over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
If Russell doesn’t throw another pass this season, he reportedly will be the first quarterback since 1998 to have an efficiency rating under 50 with at least 200 attempts. Three quarterbacks did it that season, including San Diego Chargers' draft bust Ryan Leaf.
After a lengthy holdout as a rookie, Russell reportedly signed a contract with about $32.5 million in guaranteed money. The former Louisiana State star said he won’t renegotiate his contract after this season.
“Oh, no. That’s over and done with,” he said. “I don’t even consider that as a part of it.”
Russell reportedly is due a base salary of $9.45 million next season. Gradkowski reportedly signed a one-year, $535,000 deal with the Raiders earlier this year.