Not time to press the panic button on JaMarcus Russell

By all accounts, including my own two eyes, JaMarcus Russell had a rough camp. He was inaccurate with his deep throws, and had problems connecting on the short routes. Whilst the temptation is to see this as a foreboding of the 2006 offensive debacle, don’t.

As is inscribed on the cover of that wholly remarkable book, the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t Panic.”

The key thing to remember is that this camp was in early May, and the season does not start until the middle of September.

The first thing that pops to mind is wondering what exactly has been taught at quarterback school. It certainly wasn’t center exchanges, as all three quarterbacks had difficulty accepting the snap from center.

The key is to look at his performance holistically. He had his ups and downs. He was able to let some really beautiful balls fly deep, and he was able to hit the tight ends on check down routes. There were times he made smart decisions.

He did have more than his share of accuracy issues. His weaknesses were on the screen passes where he kept short hopping the ball to the receivers. He also had a tendency to overthrow his receivers on the deep balls.

The good news is that these are problems that seem to be more of a matter of mechanics than of aiming. If he shows up at all of the teams Organized Team Activities and continues working with Paul Hackett, he should be able to get these kinks worked out.

The problems that Bruce Gradkowski had, which was hanging his deep balls which would make them easily defended in a game would be of much more concern. Russell has the physical tools that most quarterbacks could only dream of, but it was known that he was going to be a bit of a project coming out of LSU.

The key to Russell’s success will be emulating the tenacity and work ethic of his backup Jeff Garcia. It also rests on his learning from quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett who is considered among the best in the business.

If JaMarcus Russell is still making these kinds of errors once training camp is in full swing, then it will be time to be very concerned.

See also: No excuses: Russell must shine

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About Patrick A. Patterson, Senior Writer

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