JaMarcus Russell wasn't just whistling dixie when he said he'd be holding private, extracurricular workouts with his receiving corps this off-season. Russell literally flew them to Dixie, all expenses paid, to a secret site in Alabama where these private practices are reportedly currently taking place.
The NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reports that school is in session, JaMarcus-style, somewhere in Alabama right now. LaCanfora confirms that rookie Louis Murphy, ex-Chief and new Raider Will Franklin, and waiver wire pickup Todd Watkins are currently in attendance. More Raiders may show up as the week-long session continues.
LaCanfora's report confirms as truth Russell's claim that he'd be holding private workouts for teammates before training camp.
"The subplot to all this is the whole thing's been fairly top secret," LaCanfora reports in the NFL Network video segment. "JaMarcus isn't talking about it, his representatives have been told, you know, 'Don't talk about it'. So It took a little bit of snooping to actually find out that this was even going on. And that in itself speaks to some maturity, you know, from Jamarcus' end because, you know, because a lot of guys, when they do do something a little bit above and beyond the call, you kind of hear about it all over the place, there's a lot of media down there, it's highly promoted. This has really been done on the down low."
Also impressive is the participation of Louis Murphy. Jerry McDonald notes in the Oakland Tribune, "It’s (a) particularly bold statement from Murphy, a rookie who is not under contract and has no protection from injury." This is yet another indication that Murphy -- and not Darrius Heyward-Bey -- could emerge as Oakland's top rookie wideout threat.
You'd think this would beat down any discussion of JaMarcus losing the starting quarterback position. Of course, it has done the opposite. Former Raider and now NFL Network analyst Warren Sapp made a cryptic remark at the end of the video on how this may or may not actually help Russell's standing in the Raider clubhouse.
"In Oakland," Sapp said, "If you work out in Oakland, it looks a lot better than working out away from Oakland. Just trust me on that." And then Sapp winked like Sarah Palin does when she's trying to deliver a serious speech.
Sapp may be onto something, but JaMarcus Russell is onto something too. And that's a serious dose of Raider football during vacation time, something which definitely attests to his emerging leadership capacity.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who thinks his invite and plane tickets to JaMarcus Russell's private workouts must have somehow got lost in the mail.