Turner considering benching QB Collins

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Oct 14, 2005

Umm... Does it matter? They will suck with either QB.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marques Tuiasosopo probably will get his shot as Oakland's starting quarterback this week.

Coach Norv Turner is leaning toward demoting the struggling Kerry Collins and plans to make his final decision before the Raiders take the practice field Wednesday to prepare for the lowly New York Jets -- though it sure seems Turner has all but made up his mind.

The coach already spoke to Collins about the potential change for Sunday's road game.

"I wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't something we're considering strongly," Turner said Monday on the heels of the Raiders' second straight defeat and fourth loss in five games, 34-10 at San Diego.

"We're going to look at the quarterback situation and say, 'Hey, is it time to look at Tui?' With his mobility, would that help us?"

The 26-year-old Tuiasosopo has been a backup since the Raiders drafted him out of Washington in 2001. He started one game in 2003 in place of injured 2002 MVP Rich Gannon, but hurt his knee during Oakland's third offensive series on a hard hit by Boss Bailey in a 23-13 loss at Detroit and hasn't played in a regular-season game since.

Tuiasosopo planned to relax by playing the guitar Monday night to take his mind off Turner's decision.

"I definitely feel like I have a better chance," Tuiasosopo said. "That's always exciting. I'll lay low for a couple more days and obviously on Wednesday we'll all know and I'll go on from there. ... I wouldn't approach it any different. There are no added expectations, no added pressure. When I was playing in college, I'd go out and play. Pressure is a lot of things that have nothing to do with football. I love to play football and I love to go out to compete to win."

This preseason, Tuiasosopo threw for 343 yards and completed 29 of his 44 passes with four interceptions and no touchdowns. He has been taking snaps with the first-team offense at times and is more athletic than Collins, allowing him to move more in the pocket.

The fans have been calling for him to get an opportunity for weeks now, chanting "Tui! Tui!" when the offense takes the field.

"I have nothing to say about it," receiver Jerry Porter said about the situation. "No matter who's the quarterback, I'll be OK. I've been with Marques all five years he's been here."

After a promising start to the season, the 32-year-old Collins has lately found himself facing constant questions -- just like his mistake-prone year last season -- about the Raiders' ineffective offense.

"That's a tough one," left tackle Barry Sims said of the possible QB move. "I don't think Kerry's played in a way that suggests that he should be replaced, but at the same time, Tui's been here a long time, and hardly played at all. It would be interesting to see how he handles himself, but I don't think that Kerry should be replaced by any means. I think he's the quarterback, and it's his job. I think you can't pin the whole loss on him."

Collins has completed 245 of his 446 passes for 3,118 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he has thrown 10 interceptions and been sacked 32 times for 194 lost yards.

His recent struggles have been surprising after his strong start in his first full season as starter. Collins didn't throw an interception until his 141st pass in Week 5 against San Diego, then didn't give up another pick for 95 more attempts. Seven of his 10 interceptions have come in the past four games, including three in a 31-17 home loss to Denver on Nov. 13.

"It's been a variety of things," Collins said after Sunday's game. "Certainly, I take as much responsibility as anybody. It seems like it's been different things at different times, where the players get penalties or non-execution. Like I said, I'm not going to point fingers. I know that I didn't live up to the expectations I had for myself this season."

Turner isn't about to name a quarterback for the final four games, meaning Collins potentially could be benched this week and get another chance.

"Kerry wants to play," Turner said. "He's a competitor. He's a strong guy. He gives everything he's got. There's no question he wants to continue to play, and I appreciate that."