OAKLAND, Calif. &
Daunte Culpepper cleanly handled his first snap for a change and did plenty else right, too. Cast off by Miami a month ago, Culpepper is doing his best to win the starting job in Oakland.
Culpepper threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Curry and looked sharp in his first preseason start, leading the Raiders to a 20-10 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Friday night.
The Raiders (2-1) started their third quarterback in as many exhibition games, with Culpepper following Josh McCown and Andrew Walter. Other than Culpepper's fumbling problem his first two games &
he had four, including the first snap from center each game &
he has been productive and healthy with his new team.
He handled the initial center exchange from Jake Grove this game and threw a pass over the middle to tight end Zach Miller, drawing a 28-yard pass interference penalty against Brandon Chillar. Culpepper also scrambled for 10 yards on 3rd-and-4 on the drive, setting up a 50-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
Culpepper drove the Raiders to the — on the next drive before running back LaMont Jordan lost a fumble in the end zone. Culpepper then led Oakland to a touchdown on his final drive, coolly beating the blitz on his TD pass to Curry.
On third-and-13, Culpepper threw a quick pass over the middle against Curry before getting hit. Curry eluded Tye Hill and ran in for the score. Culpepper has thrown three TD passes without an interception this preseason, also showing good mobility on his surgically repaired right knee that cut his previous two seasons short.
That contributed to his release by the Dolphins last month, leaving the former Pro Bowler scrambling for a job just before the preseason. With top draft pick JaMarcus Russell out in a contract dispute, Culpepper's opportunity came in Oakland.
The Rams (1-2) have no questions at quarterback, where Marc Bulger is entrenched as starter, but their first-team offense once again struggled. At least the Rams managed to score this week with their first-stringers, getting a 26-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins in the second quarter for their only points in 11 drives this preseason with the starting unit. Bulger finished 8-for-21 for 109 yards.
St. Louis does have an excuse as two of the team's biggest playmakers in running back Steven Jackson and receiver Torry Holt basically got the night off. Jackson played only one play for the second straight week &
a 40-yard pass to Isaac Bruce &
and Holt sat the entire game.
Jackson wasn't used much in the 2006 preseason, either, totaling 17 carries and three receptions. That light warmup did not slow him down as he led the NFL with 2,334 yards from scrimmage.
Rookie Brian Leonard got the bulk of the time at running back in the first half and had the highlight of the game for the Rams. Leonard hurdled Raiders cornerback Fabian Washington on a 15-yard run in the first quarter, drawing "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd. Leonard finished with 20 yards on six carries.
Gus Frerotte threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Marques Hagans in the fourth quarter for St. Louis' touchdown.
McCown led a touchdown drive late in the first half when a 49-yard screen pass to Jordan set up Jordan's 1-yard score. McCown also led the Raiders to a field goal in the third quarter, finishing 6-for-9 for 138 yards. He later lost a fumble on a sack by Eric Moore.
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin was aggressive, going for it six times on fourth down and converting four of the opportunities.
Hill committed two pass interference penalties and was called for illegal hands to the face on another pass. The Rams were called for five pass interference penalties in all. ... Janikowski missed a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter. ... Grove and Jeremy Newberry split time at center for Oakland. ... Chris Carr had an 80-yard kickoff return for Oakland in the fourth quarter. ... Moore had two sacks. ... DT Gerard Warren, acquired in a trade with Denver on Tuesday, played in the fourth quarter for Oakland.
Daunte shines, Raiders win
OAKLAND, Calif. &