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No. — overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell and the Oakland Raiders failed to agree on a contract before the start of training camp Friday, leaving the quarterback as a holdout from the team's first practice.
Coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday that the team was making progress toward signing Russell to a deal but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement before the practice began Friday afternoon. Second-round pick Zach Miller, a tight end out of Arizona State, also missed the opening session of training camp.
Talks between the Raiders, Russell and his agent, Eric Metz, have been ongoing for weeks but the sides have yet to strike an agreement. Russell is said to be seeking a deal worth $60 million. Last year's No. — overall pick, defensive end Mario Williams of the Houston Texans, signed a six-year, $54 million deal that included $26.5 million in guaranteed money.
The deal is so complex that the Raiders have had as many as six people in their front office working on the contract.
The Raiders used the No. — overall pick on Russell in April, making him the cornerstone of a rebuilding project for a team that had won just 15 games the previous four seasons.
While the Raiders are planning their future around Russell, veterans Josh McCown and Andrew Walter are expected to compete for the starting job for the season opener Sept. 9 against Detroit. But McCown said it's very important for Russell to report to camp soon.
"It's huge," he said. "Because these first few weeks, the practices that you get and the work you get you never get back. I have not been the top pick, but being in that situation where there are a couple of sides to the thing and it takes time. Hopefully it will get worked out to where everybody's happy and we can get him in here and get him working."
Russell impressed his new coaches during offseason workouts but still has plenty to learn as he tries to adjust to the speed and complexity of the pro game.
Russell went 25-4 as LSU's starting quarterback, capping his career by throwing for 332 yards and two TDs in a 41-14 Sugar Bowl win over Notre Dame. He finished his career with the Tigers by throwing the second most touchdown passes (52) and having the second highest completion percentage (61.9 percent) in school history.
That success combined with a 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame and a rocket arm made Russell the Raiders' choice with the No. — pick.
Russell still unsigned, leaving top pick out of camp
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