Though Latavius Murray was the Raiders’ leading running back in the preseason, the second-year pro didn’t get a single carry in the season-opening loss to the New York Jets last weekend.
This Sunday, however, it appears likely that Murray finally will get a chance to carry the ball for the first time in a regular-season game.
Murray, the No. 3 running back on the roster, rushed for 94 yards on 24 carries in exhibition games, and showed both speed and power in breaking tackles and bursting through holes.
But in the loss to the Jets this past Sunday, Maurice Jones-Drew (nine), Darren McFadden (four) and Marcel Reece (one) shared the work in a game in which Oakland was held to just 25 rushing yards.
In this Sunday’s home opener vs. the Houston Texans at O.co Coliseum, Murray seems assured of seeing action because Jones-Drew has a hand injury and hasn’t practiced this week.
Jones-Drew is reported to have had a “procedure” on a hand, and head coach Dennis Allen said he is “day-to-day.”
“We’ll see whenever he’s available and ready to go,” Allen told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. Jones-Drew also had a hand injury during training camp, but the Raiders indicated this injury – suffered during the Jets game – is different.
Murray’s style might be well-suited for facing the Texans and their rugged front seven. Murray leans forward with a big, 230-pound frame and showed in the preseason he can break tackles.
On Wednesday, he was the No. 2 back in practice behind McFadden, and said he’ll be ready to go if Jones-Drew can’t.
“Injuries are part of the game,” Murray told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “Depending on what happens with Maurice, I’ve got to be ready at any given time to execute my carries and my plays.”
Oakland had a tough time opening holes in the Jets defensive front in Week 1, despite the fact the team had rebuilt most of the offensive line in the offseason and was hoping to be a successful run-first offense in 2014 to take some of the pressure of rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
No matter who the ballcarrier is for Oakland on Sunday, the Raiders’ blockers up front will need to do a much better job against a strong defense led by All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said this week that, “I don’t think we got as much push as what we would have liked” from the offensive line.
Murray, who was injured last summer and missed his rookie 2013 season, is excited for the chance to be on the active roster, He's also the No. 1 kick returner now.. On Sunday, he could finally get the chance to show the Raiders what he can do as a running back in a regular-season game.
Tweeted Murray Wednesday: “New week new opportunity.”