Raiders, Shanahan Stick With Schroeder : Lofton Cut, but Millen and Christensen Survive at Least Another Day

Times Staff Writer

Silver and blackdom shook a little Monday, but the big one everyone was braced for is yet to come. Jay Schroeder survived the Sunday night staff reappraisal and kept his job. Former All-Pro James Lofton was cut, as expected, but he was the only big name.

It's too soon to throw a party for the survivors. The Raiders cut only to 67 Monday and must get to 60 today.

Gallows humor hung over the El Segundo facility.

Todd Christensen, whose departure has been predicted, said he woke up, read the papers and asked his kids if they'd like to see a matinee.

When no one called to tell him not to come to work, he showed up as usual . . . and found his jerseys missing. He practiced in No. 42 rather than his own 46. At Christensen's level of probability, omens are unnecessary but this still didn't seem like a great sign.

Matt Millen, who has been telling friends he's gone, survived another day. He emerged from the lunch room at noon, holding his belly and announcing, "I showed them! Let them try to cut me without feeding me first!"

Millen may live to eat more Raider chow. Jerry Robinson, who is ticketed to replace him, is still questionable for Saturday's exhibition against the Chicago Bears with the groin pull that has kept him out all exhibition season.

Also, Robinson still has never lined up at the new position--strong-side inside linebacker. Jackie Shipp might not have looked like the answer there last Saturday while spearheading a defense that allowed the Houston Oilers 198 yards rushing, and Coach Mike Shanahan may not be ready to reduce his options.

So the payroll was only lightened by $1.1 million Monday, when Lofton ($725,000) and linebacker Linden King ($375,000) were cut.

Lofton's old Green Bay contract would have required him to be paid the first $400,000 as a reporting bonus, but Raider sources say that the contract was rewritten to make more of it straight salary--which now doesn't have to be paid.

What got Lofton, 33, was the receiver glut, produced by the Willie Gault deal, the Tim Brown draft, the accession of Mervyn Fernandez and this summer's surprise, Mike Alexander.

Sam Graddy and Timmy Ware played ahead of Lofton in Oakland, so the receiver who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 1978 and in six of the next 10 seasons, who caught 599 passes, whose 11,085 yards are fourth all-time, who is second among active receivers with an 18.5-yard per-catch average, was cut.

"We made the decision at this time to let James know," Shanahan said, "so he'd have a chance to go to another team, rather than tell him a week from now. James is a fine football player and can play in the NFL."

King, 34, came to the Raiders in 1986 after being written off by the San Diego Chargers and had a surprising '87 season, even becoming a starter. He was shaky in '88, however, and Otis Wilson zoomed past him in the exhibition season.

The speculation that Steve Beuerlein would start Saturday ebbed away. Shanahan backed his incumbent quarterback, Schroeder.

"At the same time, we need improvement there," Shanahan said. "Jay knows that.

"At Denver, we had the same situation. I came in (John Elway's) second year. In preseason, Elway would come on the field and get booed. Gary Kubiak had a couple of good preseason games and they're all cheering Kubiak.

"That's the nature of this business. When you're 0-3 and things haven't been clicking offensively, the blame goes to the quarterback. Regardless of the situation, regardless of the running game, regardless of the drops."

Schroeder, who has had no running game and several passes dropped, is nevertheless at a low 43.4% in exhibitions. He took the hubbub in stride.

"It's funny," he said. "Mike just told me he went back and looked at '86 when I went to the Pro Bowl. He said I was a little under 50% with six interceptions in preseason.

"I've had a couple of plays but that's not enough to go and say you're playing half-way decent. I haven't. . . . I've got a lot of work to do, there's no question about it. But I'm not worrying about it."

Raider Notes

Other cuts: former Trojan Ron Brown, former Philadelphia Eagle Jimmie Giles, former New England Patriot Stephen Starring, former Bruin Larry Lee, plus David Greenwood, Clyde Glover, Anthony Mosely and Mike Gillette. . . . Mike Shanahan says Howie Long will play Saturday but said Jerry Robinson remains questionable.

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