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Raiders : Shanahan Tries to Sidestep a New Controversy

Times Staff Writer

There being another attraction here or there on the local sport scene, you can’t really say the latest Raider quarterback controversy has yet polarized Southern California into Jay Schroeder and Steve Beuerlein camps.

It may still be a little short of Waterfield-Van Brocklin, Hadl-Harris-Jaworski or even Plunkett-Wilson-Hilger. But Sunday in Kansas City, with the Raiders leading, 14-10, Mike Shanahan did relieve a struggling Schroeder with Beuerlein, who played well.

The Raiders won, 27-17. Shanahan says there’s no controversy raging, but Monday he was required to insist upon it again.

So he did.

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“Jay is our quarterback,” Shanahan said. “He’s No. 1.

“Steve’s No. 2, and we’ve got confidence in both our quarterbacks. Jay will get stronger and stronger. He’ll feel more comfortable every game. I have the utmost confidence in him.

“I’ve said before, if Steve was coming out of college now, he’d be, in my opinion, a No. 1 draft choice. . . . He just doesn’t have the experience Jay has. But he’s proved he can come in and get the job done.”

In the prior 2 games, Schroeder threw 8 interceptions. Against the Chiefs, he was 2 for 12 after a 5-for-5 start.

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On the other hand, Schroeder is barely off the plane from Washington.

“I knew it was going to take some time,” Shanahan said. “I’ve never been through a situation where you bring in a quarterback during the middle of the year. It’s tough enough to bring a quarterback into training camp, without a quarterback camp and an off-season conditioning program and throwing program behind him.

“But he’s done well and he’s progressed the way that I’d like him to progress. He’s a heck of a quarterback. It just takes a little while to feel comfortable with the system.

“During the game, he got away from a couple of his reads and that’s due to (lack of) repetitions. It just takes some time. That’s why I thought a change was needed.”

And if the Coliseum fans start chanting Beuerlein’s name?

“That’s part of football,” Shanahan said. “When I was at Denver, when John Elway had a bad day, they were screaming for Gary Kubiak.”

The Raiders hoped to put their first-string secondary--Mike Haynes and Terry McDaniel at the corners, and Vann McElroy and Stacey Toran at safety--together at New Orleans for the first time since the opener, which Toran played after only a few days in camp, having signed late.

It isn’t to be. Toran is listed as doubtful, along with Howie Long and Todd Christensen. McDaniel, the talented rookie who broke a leg bone, is still on injured reserve. He is running gingerly and Shanahan is hoping he’s 2 weeks away.

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Are these guys hurting?

“It’s very frustrating,” said McElroy, who missed 5 games then came back to make 2 interceptions in his return to the starting lineup Sunday.

“We started out, we had such high hopes for the group. You try to get a closeness going, you start to think about group goals. All of a sudden, this guy’s gone, this guy’s gone, that guy.”

What to do?

Cry?

Laugh?

“When you lose around here,” said McElroy, grinning, “you don’t joke much. In the past we’ve always been able to joke. We’ve always won.”

In El Segundo, a losing season is--how to capture the gloom, the foreboding?

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Let’s just say it’s real gloomy.

“People say, ‘Wait’ll you get out in the real world,’ ” McElroy said. “The real world? I’ve taken more shots. And that’s just the physical part of it. The mental part, you make a mistake and everybody around the country’s watching you.”

McElroy made one of those, too, Sunday, coming up too close on a short completion over the middle and letting Paul Palmer turn it into a 48-yard scoring play.

“Exactly,” McElroy said. “I was going for the interception. I didn’t really see Palmer. Russell (Carter) went for the knockdown. I was playing the short middle, watching the quarterback’s eyes. He (Steve DeBerg) threw the ball, it’s coming right to me. All of a sudden I’m on my back and he’s running down the field.”

Win some, lose some, or in this case, lose some, win some. A week when it’s OK to crack a smile comes in handy.

Raider Notes

The always-ominous reading of the injured list included another heretofore injury-free, big-name player, Tim Brown. Brown has a knee injury and underwent tests Monday. . . . Coach Mike Shanahan awarded game balls to Stefon Adams, Vann McElroy, Andy Parker and Bill Pickel. Said Shanahan of Pickel: “That was probably the best game he’s had in the last couple of years.” . . . The race that won’t go away: it’s true, the Raiders (4-3) are 1 game behind the first-place Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, both 4-3.


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