Breaking down Gradkowski and Simms

There could be two new starting quarterbacks in the AFC West this week.

Oakland coach Tom Cable is expected to announce Wednesday whether JaMarcus Russell will remain the team’s quarterback or if backup Bruce Gradkowski will replace him. Gradkowski spelled the struggling Russell for the second time in three weeks in a loss to Kansas City on Sunday.

In Denver, starter Kyle Orton has an ankle injury. He will try to play, but if not, Chris Simms will replace him Sunday in a home game against San Diego in which the two teams are playing for first place. Simms did not play well in the second half of a loss at Washington on Sunday after Orton was hurt.

With the two possible changes happening, we have enlisted the help of Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. He provided us with a thumbnail scouting report on both Gradkowski and Simms.

Gradkowski: “He’s a good, tough kid who has that Pittsburgh quarterback mentality. He’s very competitive and he works hard. But he’s small and his arm is well below average. He’s best throwing short-to-intermediate passes. He is a backup. But I could see where the Raiders could turn to him over Russell for the rest of the year. He’s more aware than Russell and he’s probably more competitive. But the Raiders made a tragic mistake in not having a good, veteran backup for Russell.”

Simms: “He was horrendous against Washington. But he really hasn’t played in three years, so he’s trying to get a feel for the game again. But he’s erratic and he doesn’t get the ball out quickly. He’s not real crisp or accurate. I expect more from the son of a great quarterback (his father is Phil Simms). I’d think he’d understand the play action better and have better foot work … But there are worse backups in the NFL.”