The Raiders had a few good games running the ball in 2015, but they weren’t as effective and consistent as they wanted to be.
Overall, Oakland averaged just 91.1 yards per game on the ground, an average that ranked only 28th in the NFL.
But as the Raiders continue through their organized team activities (OTAs) sessions this week, second-year offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave told reporters he expects bigger things from the running game in 2016.
For one thing, the Raiders have added an outstanding run-blocking guard – one of the best in the NFL – in free-agent Kelechi Osemele. That alone should help boost opportunities. Plus, No. 1 running back Latavius Murray -- who rushed for 1,066 yards in 2015 -- had little help. Roy Helu Jr. was supposed to be the team’s No. 2 option, but he was unavailable for much of the year because of injuries. Now Helu is healthy again and the Raiders have added running back DeAndre Washington of Texas Tech through the draft. That should allow the Raiders to have more depth and options this coming season.
“I think overall we’re looking to do more things that are up our players’ respective alleys,” Musgrave told the Bay Area media Tuesday after the team’s fourth OTA session. “What can they do well? I think we have a better grasp of that today than we did 12 months ago. We want to do running concepts that our guys can execute, whether it’s the running back or the O-line. We’re always looking to get better, of course, fundamentally and technique-wise. We’re going to keep working in that direction.”
Musgrave said, too, that he loves the versatility Washington has as both a ballcarrier and receiver. Musgrave says the Raiders will be able to “tailor plays, tailor situations” to use best use his talents.
At Texas Tech Washington – an explosive 5-foot-8, 200-pounder – rushed for 1,103 and 1,492 yards over his final two seasons, while also catching 30 and 41 passes in 2014 and 2015.
Said Musgrave of the rookie: “He’s going to be good in first, second or third down.”
General manager Reggie McKenzie, who drafted Washington in the fifth round, believes the running back will add another dimension to the Raiders offense this season. Despite his lack of height, Washington is a powerful back, said McKenzie.
“He can pound it up in there,” said McKenzie. “The Raider Nation will find out fast just how physical he is.”