At 2-12, there is much to fix on the Oakland Raiders.
This offseason, they’ll add a head coach, some wide receiver help and add some much-needed talent to the secondary. Those are at the top of a long list. But when the draft and free agency period begin, it’s become apparent that the team won’t have to seek out a No. 1 running back.
After just three games with extensive action, Latavius Murray is showing he can be a featured running back in the NFL.
On Sunday, in a loss at Kansas City, the second-year pro earned his first NFL start and picked up 59 yards on 12 carries, a 4.9-yard average. One of those carries was a 25-yard burst in the first quarter, giving him three runs of 20-plus yards in his most recent four games. In a victory over the 49ers last week, Murray gained 76 yards to help the Raiders put together some effective drives. In the previous game against the Chiefs on Nov. 20 – his professional breakout – he had a 90-yard run and picked up 112 yards on just four carries early before leaving with an injury.
At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Murray is showing he has both the power and force to run inside and the burst to break through for bigger gains. The Raiders certainly will bring in some other backs this offseason for depth – Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew haven’t earned another season in Oakland – but Murray has proved in just a few games that he can gain yards.
He’s also caught four passes over his past two games and blocked well.
Though Murray looked very good in the preseason, once the regular season began he became an afterthought, with McFadden and Jones-Drew getting the bulk of work.
But since Murray picked up some good yardage in a late-game audition vs. the Chargers on Nov. 16, interim head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Greg Olsen have made Murray the team’s No. 1 back.
On Sunday, he got his first start. And he’s confident it won’t be his last.
“I know if I run the way I can run, I know I’ll be fine,” Murray told Marcus Thompson III of the Bay Area News Group.
He’ll get his next chance this Sunday at O.co Coliseum vs. the Buffalo Bills.