Ex-Raider Russell pleads not guilty

MOBILE, Ala. -- Former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell pleaded not guilty to a charge of illegal drug possession Tuesday in Alabama.

Russell, 24, is a former LSU star who was released by Oakland earlier this year after being the No. 1 draft choice in 2007. He entered the plea in court in Mobile. He is charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, codeine syrup.

Authorities have said he did not have a prescription for the drug and that he was arrested July 5 at his home as part of an undercover investigation.

His attorney, Donald Briskman, said Tuesday that there were about nine or 10 people in the house and that he believes that once all of the evidence is known, Russell will be exonerated.

Russell, who was a high school star in Mobile, had no comment after his court appearance. He has been free on $2,500 bond.

"He's upbeat. He's looking forward to his day in court and getting this behind him," Briskman said, according to WALA-TV in Mobile. "We fully expect he will be exonerated from these charges. That's exactly how I feel. I've had an opportunity within the last week to get some additional information, which bolsters my feeling that he's ultimately going to be acquitted.

"Be mindful of the fact that there were nearly a dozen people at the house when the sheriff conducted the investigation and raid."

Briskman said he asked for an early hearing in order for Russell to get the case behind him and renew his effort to play pro football. A hearing in his case is set for Aug. 11 to determine whether there is enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury.

One of the NFL's biggest No. 1 draft busts, Russell completed just 52.1 percent of his passes in his career, with 18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles. He won only seven of 25 starts.

He was released by the Raiders in May after three disappointing seasons with the team. He had been paid about $36.4 million through last season and was still owed $3 million at the time of his release.

The Raiders have filed a grievance seeking $9.55 million from Russell in what they say was paid as salary advances for the 2010-12 seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.