Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden split reps at running back with the first-team offense. Although competing for the starting job, don’t expect to see a lot of them in the preseason. First off, each has a recent history of injuries, and the Raiders want to make sure they’re as close to 100 percent as possible entering the regular season. Secondly, the staff wants to get a look at youngsters Latavius Murray, a 2013 sixth-round pick who missed all of last season with a foot injury, and Kory Sheets, a star CFL performer who rushed for 2,875 yards and 23 touchdowns over the past two seasons with Saskatchewan.
MJD is far from a lock, but given his 8th/9th round price, there isn’t a whole lot of risk here. He’s a good bet to win the starting job in Oakland, and at 29-years-old, we’re not convinced that he’s over the hill. He averaged 4.8 YPC as recently as 2012 and doesn’t have the mileage of a typical 29-year-old back since he was a part-time player for his first three seasons in the league. Rashad Jennings had success down the stretch for the Raiders in 2013 and MJD played ahead of Jennings while in Jacksonville. DMC is the underdog in this race.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014, 10:45am
During an appearance with Howard Balzer and Mark Dominik of Sirius XM NFL Radio, Raiders left tackle Donald Penn, who is one of those new blockers, said that the Raiders are going to be committed to moving the ball on the ground during the 2014 season.
“We’re gonna run the ball, run the ball, then run it again, until the defense stops us,” Penn said.
It sounds like the blockers are in place to run the ball, now it will be in the hands of veteran RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden to, according to the story, show they still have the wheels to thrive in the NFL. QB Matt Schaub and the passing game will also need to show something to keep teams from stacking the box.
Monday, June 30, 2014, 10:22am
His career-low average of 3.4 yards per carry in 2013 followed an injury-plagued 2012 campaign and had MJD considering hanging up his spikes.
"For awhile, I was contemplating retirement because I just didn't feel like I had it anymore," Jones-Drew told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month. "But that wasn't the case. My trainer helped me get back in shape and gain that foundation that I'd lost with the surgery."
Jones-Drew said he's in the best shape of his life since joining the Raiders. He's still expected to combine with Darren McFadden to share the workload in Oakland, however. We currently have MJD ranked 31st among RBs with an ADP of the 10th round. Despite being expected to share the load, McFadden (ranked 37th) has had his share of injuries in the past, so MJD looks likes someone to take a shot on later in the draft who may be able to play in certain matchups.
Friday, June 20, 2014, 10:48am
Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are the top running backs heading into Raiders' camp, but the team will need help behind them to maintain a steady rushing attack. Second-year pro Latavius Murray seems to be No. 3 at this point, with Kory Sheets also playing well.
OC Greg Olson’s take on both players: “We’re looking for big things from Latavius Murray right now, coming off the foot injury. He’s shown, to me, the biggest upside right now in what we’ve seen thus far, if he can stay healthy. Kory Sheets has played a lot of football coming straight to us from Canada and he’s shown some flashes. I think there’s probably a role for him. He’s not your big back, he’s more of a back that you can move back in the slot and can help you in the passing game.”
While no one is suggesting Raiders RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are Walter Payton, coach Dennis Allen likes what he sees through three weeks of organized team activities and a day of minicamp.
“When you watch ‘em practice, you see guys that still have explosion, guys that still have run skills, guys that still make people miss,’’ Allen said. “I don’t pay a lot of attention to what the statistics may say. I just see what I see with my eyes, and I see a copule of guys that if they can stay healthy, have the ability to perform at a high level.’’
Quarterback Matt Schaub said the real test will come in pads at training camp, but sees both running backs showing good burst in the open field. He likes their ability to pick up blitzing linebackers and also be explosive in the screen game.
Jones-Drew has been better more recently than McFadden and we feel he has the inside track to the Raiders RB1 job.
Monday, June 9, 2014, 7:45pm
Teams don't usually have their RB1 double as kick returner, so it appears that the team is expecting Maurice Jones-Drew to start with McFadden relegated to RB2 duties.
Thursday, May 15, 2014, 11:15am
Murray doesn't appear to be at the forefront of Allen's mind when discussing his RB corps, which may explain why the Raiders re-signed McFadden and signed Jones-Drew in free agency.
Giants beat writer Dan Graziano gives his take on the Giants backfield:
The Giants signed Rashad Jennings to be their starting running back. They believe he's ready at this stage of his career, after backing up guys like Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville and Darren McFadden in Oakland, to handle a starter's workload. They believe he can catch the ball for them out of the backfield, that he can grind out yards between the tackles and that he's capable of delivering a big play. Assuming he picks up the blocking schemes and can help in pass protection, he's their guy.
That said, Wilson is still on the team, and if the 2012 first-round draft pick shows he's recovered from neck surgery, there is surely going to be a role for a player with his skills. The Giants are hearing good things about Wilson's recovery, but they know they can't count on him, so they signed Jennings and brought back Peyton Hillis in order to construct a backfield in case Wilson can't be a part of it.
I think their plan is for Jennings to get the bulk of the carries with Hillis as his backup, and if they are pleasantly surprised by Wilson's health and availability, they will find ways to work him into the offense. If healthy, he offers a lot.
Jennings was the #6 RB from Week 9 to Week 15 (when he was playing starter’s snaps for the Raiders) and that included a missed game against the Jets in Week 14. The team still believes in David Wilson, but Jennings is fully capable of winning the RB1 job outright. The Giants had a very difficult time running the ball in 2013, so they need to sort out the offensive line as well. Still, Jennings is a three-down back and has a relatively clear path to a starting gig. For a closer look at Jennings' potential workload and production, click here.
Sunday, April 20, 2014, 10:56am
Raiders beat writer Paul Gutierrez says that Darren McFadden has the inside track to be the team's RB1: "If healthy, and that's a big IF, Darren McFadden is the lead dog in the backfield, when you consider his home run potential and familiarity with the Raiders offense."
Jones-Drew, according to the report, is scheduled to have a physical on Friday morning. The report, citing two unnamed league sources, said a contract will be signed later in the day if no issues arise.
Jones-Drew has been more durable and reliable than McFadden. He's missed just 14 games during his nine-year NFL career - 10 of those came in 2012 as a result of a foot injury, the story points out. But from a fantasy prospective, this makes the RB situation a bit of a mess in Oakland, because it's hard to imagine one taking on a pure backup role.
Murray will be an attractive pick in the later rounds given his potential and the chances that McFadden gets injured again during the course of the season. A McFadden/Murray combo should be a fairly cheap way to fill the RB2 spot on draft day, though there's no guarantee that the team's running game will be as productive now that Rashad Jennings is gone. He carried the load down the stretch in 2013.
This is surprising, as the general consensus was that McFadden would sign elsewhere while the team would focus on re-signing Rashad Jennings, who was the far superior runner in 2013. There is no reason to believe that McFadden will return to his 2010/2011 form under the current regime.
Raiders RB Latavius Murray appeared in one preseason game, the exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys, and finished with 29 yards on eight carries. It was his only action as the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder was placed on Injured Reserve on Aug. 27 with an ankle injury. “He was never fully healthy,” coach Dennis Allen said at the recent NFL combine. “And every time he got healthy, the ankle reared its ugly head again and he was back down. There were a couple of plays in there ... the Dallas game, maybe, where he got a run over on the sideline and was able to lower his shoulder and really finish a run off really well. So there are plays in there I can think of that are exciting and encouraging to me. But, again, he’s got very limited experience and limited exposure.”
Big things are expected out of a healty Murray, especially with Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. “I think Latavius is one of those guys that we’re anxious to see be healthy and get out there and play,” Allen said. “He’s a big back that’s got excellent speed and excellent size. He runs tough ... we’ll find out a lot more about Latavius Murray as we go through the offseason program and into training camp.”
While the Raiders are expected to re-sign Rashad Jennings (who was excellent as a starter), McFadden is expected to walk in free agency. Murray could become Jennings' primary backup or even become the starter if Jennings signs elsewhere. The versatile Marcel Reece will have a role as well.
The 12 interviews taped for Pro Football Talk on NBCSN at Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday included Raiders coach Dennis Allen, and Allen suggested that Rashad Jennings is more likely to remain a Raider than Darren McFadden.
When listing the team’s priority free agents, Allen specifically mentioned Jennings, who joined the team in 2013 on a one-year deal. Allen didn’t mention McFadden, a first-round pick on 2008 whose rookie contract is expiring.
Rashad Jennings was the #6 RB from Week 9 to Week 15 (when he was playing starter’s snaps for the Raiders) and that included a missed game against the Jets in Week 14. If Oakland re-signs Jennings and lets Darren McFadden walk (as expected), Jennings will definitely be in the RB2 conversation.