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Gradkowski ready to take reins if Campbell struggles

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Dan Parr
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Posted Nov. 21, 2010 @ 1:13 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Head coach Tom Cable has complimented Bruce Gradkowski for the way he's conducted himself since he found out Jason Campbell would continue as the starter when the Raiders travel to face the Steelers in Week 11.

The QB situation could become an issue again for Cable, though, with one bad outing by Campbell in the midst of a tight race for the AFC West title.

Cable had maintained that Gradkowski was his top quarterback when healthy, but he changed his tune over the past couple of weeks and officially announced on Nov. 15 that Campbell would continue starting. He appeared to be firmly in Gradkowski's corner after benching Campbell in favor of Gradkowski in the middle of the team's Week Two game before Gradkowski injured his shoulder in Week Five.

Campbell received a second chance and compiled a touchdown-interception ratio of 6-3 in the five games before Gradkowski's shoulder healed. The Raiders went 4-1 in those games.

The team's success with Campbell under center, and perhaps some pointed advice or a direct order from managing general partner Al Davis — who is said to be unhappy that an anonymous source revealed that he wanted to see Campbell continue starting — led Cable to announce that Gradkowski would keep watching from the sideline, even though his shoulder has healed.

We hear Gradkowski isn't interested in causing any rifts, and his teammates are doing a good job of hiding their disappointment if they didn't agree with Cable's decision. That doesn't mean Gradkowski thinks the job should be Campbell's.

Cable was asked if Campbell has a shorter rope now that Gradkowski is healthy, but he said he doesn't look at it that way.

"I think when someone earns something, they deserve to go out there and give it everything they've got," Cable said. "And if things don't go right or whatever happens, we have an answer to go to."

Cable doesn't want to create the perception that Campbell is a few bad quarters away from getting benched again, but it's still not clear how much leeway Campbell will get if he struggles. With Cable's history of turning to Gradkowski in tough times this season and when things went badly with JaMarcus Russell last year, there is reason to believe that Campbell's hold on the job isn't all that secure.

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