NAPA – Doug Martin is happy he signed with the Raiders this offseason. There are a few obvious reasons why, including head coach Jon Gruden and playing close to his Stockton hometown.
Significant carries will be available, something vital to a veteran hoping to spark a career renaissance after two down years.
Martin has discovered an ancillary benefit along the way, which rubber stamped his decision to join the Silver and Black.
"This is probably the top running line that I've run behind," Martin said. "I can definitely tell the holes are there and wide open. I can't wait to run behind these guys."
The run game's real work started Sunday, when the pads came on. Linemen and backs need contact and the pads themselves to refine technique and timing. That will happen regularly throughout training camp as we head into the preseason schedule.
Martin is ready for what comes next running behind a massive line that arguably includes the NFL's best interior.
Tom Cable's run blocking scheme is also Martin friendly.
"It's really once you get the ball, you pick a hole and you just go," Martin said. "It's a timing thing, and we have some gap schemes in there and those are probably one of my favorite types of run plays – where you just get the ball and just hit it."
Cable's known as a zone-blocking guy, but considers the reputation a bit confining. The Raiders will have a varied scheme that includes power/gap blocking well suited to the massive front. They will have zone elements that won't put linemen in bad spots.
"(Cable is) obviously going to try to stick to the strengths that we have," left guard Kelechi Osemele said. "We have some big strong guys. We're going to be running zone and stuff like that, but it's not going to be lateral. He never wants to be lateral. It's going to be more downhill. It's going to be more lateral then downhill. It's not going to be running from sideline to sideline. That's something that he's been talking to us about."
The Raiders have physical backs in Martin and Marshawn Lynch able to work well going downhill. Lynch will be the lead back, though Gruden has a history of regularly feeding a secondary option.
While he'll run a dynamic, varied passing attack, there are times he'll load up with a fullback and blocking tight ends and play old school football.
"I think Doug Martin is a strong and a tough guy, but he's also athletic," Osemele said. "He has really good vision as a running back so he's going to be able to change direction and hit holes and stuff like that. Then you're going to have Marshawn, this guy that's going to be able to run in one direction, not necessarily have to cut back more than one time. Not really going to try to juke anybody out of their shoes. He's going to try to get the yards right away. So I think it's good to have those two different dynamics."
Lynch and Martin are not carbon copies, but the latter grew up in Northern California – he was born in Oakland, raised in Stockton – watching Lynch work. It's been beneficial to do so up close with both of them wearing silver and black.
"You know, growing up I used to watch Marshawn. I modeled my game after Marshawn," Martin said. "I don't think he knows that, but I guess now he will. (laughter) He's definitely a great back when it comes to the game and how knowledgeable he is, how to shed tackles, how to read and all that stuff. So, he's definitely been a great help to me."