After a long offseason, Raiders training camp is about to begin. The first full-squad practice is set for July 31, and count running back Latavius Murray as among the most eager to get going.
Murray, entering his third NFL season, has spent much of this spring and summer in East Syracuse, N.Y., working out with his childhood friend Vinny Scollo, now a trainer.
With the No. 1 running back job now his for the taking, Murray wanted to put in his best offseason program to date to make certain he takes full advantage of his opportunity.
And Scollo, for one, believes Murray will be even better in 2015 than he was last season, when he finally got to carry the football late in the season and averaged 5.2 yards per attempt.
“The biggest improvement has been his explosiveness and his conditioning,” Scollo told the Post-Standard in Syracuse. “This year, he’s a lot more conditioned at this point than he was lat year because we really had to taper the workouts and work around his injury (an ankle, in 2014). This year his conditioning, his wind, is 100 percent there. And his explosiveness. He’s moving everything that much faster.”
Murray says this is the first time he’s felt fit and completely healthy in a long time.
“No nicks, no bangs, nothing,” he told reporter Donna Ditota.
He knew that under a new coaching staff, training camp would be ultra competitive this summer and he wants to prove to head coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave that he’s the best running back in a battle with Trent Richardson, Roy Helu Jr. and Michael Dyer.
“It’s me proving to them that it wasn’t just a couple carries here and there at the end of the season,” he told Ditota. “It’s what I can do. I know how important training and everything I put into the summer is going into the year because I know how important the season is for me and for the team in general.”
If the sixth-round pick from Central Florida in 2013 is the back the Raiders believe he can be, the Raiders offense certainly has a chance to surprise some people in 2015.
Musgrave – who has been the offensive coordinator at Jacksonville and Minnesota, overseeing running backs such as Fred Jackson and Adrian Peterson – is excited by what he’s seen from Murray, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who can fly if he gets into the open, as he did last season with a 90-yard TD run vs. Kansas City.
“He has tremendous size and speed,” Musgrave said. “He had a super career (in college). I’m looking forward to gettign on the field and finding out what he’s all about and what his strengths are so we can tailor our run game so it’s right up his alley.”
Said Murray this week: “Our goal as a team is to win the division. And I truly believe that if I do what I’m supposed to do, as well as everybody else on the team, that all the individual goals will come for me.”