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Tough decision looms in Oakland

Charlie Frye or JaMarcus Russell?

That’s what it has come to in Oakland. The Raiders have to decide what’s best for the organization when they make their decision at quarterback, coach Tom Cable said as the team prepares to play at Denver on Sunday.

The decision is going to come down to either Russell or Frye at quarterback. Bruce Gradkowski has a torn MCL in his left knee and a partially torn MCL in his right knee. Cable told reporters Monday that Gradkowski is doubtful to play Sunday. Gradkowski could easily be out for the season.

So, with Gradkowski unlikely to play against Denver, the Raiders have a dilemma.

Do they stick with Russell? The No. 1 overall draft pick did not play well – neither did his offensive teammates – when he spelled Gradkowski in the third quarter of a 21-point loss to Washington on Sunday. Gradkowski had started the past four games after replacing the struggling Russell.

The Oakland offense took flight under Gradkowski, who led the team to two last-second victories in his first three starts. The Oakland offense did things in those three games that Russell was unable to engineer during his nine starts. His play Sunday was reminiscent of his starting tenure.

So, based on Russell’s inability to improve, Cable – and Oakland owner Al Davis, of course – could opt to start Frye.

Oakland knows what Russell can do. It doesn’t know what Frye can do. He does have some starting experience from his Cleveland days. Perhaps the Oakland offense, clearly stagnant with Russell at the helm, will ignite under the guidance of Frye like it did under Gradkowski.

If Russell is benched in favor of Frye, it would essentially end his future in Oakland. So, the team may want to wait to disclose their plans if Frye is the guy just because it would be so damming for Russell.

For his own sake, Cable needs to consider the decision carefully. With a 4-9 record, he is no sure thing to return as Oakland’s coach. If the Raiders lose their final three games, Cable could be on his way out.

Cable may have to decide whether he trusts Russell more than Frye to help protect his future, barring an unexpected recovery from Gradkowski.

Yes, it may come down to Russell or Frye in Oakland.