ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray is a Pro Bowl running back. That title sticks, a point of pride for a young player still finding his way. It’s also a confidence booster, proof he’s doing something right after a campaign featuring 1,298 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns.
The Pro Bowl was a positive, but the fourth-year pro found new motivation in the experience. Top athletes have a knack for finding shoulder chips, and Murray's no different. Murray was a Pro Bowl alternate, a late add at that.
“I want to make sure I get there next year on my own terms and on no one else’s,” Murray said after Tuesday’s OTA session. “It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun. I was definitely stoked that I got the chance to go. Again, I want to make it there on my own terms and from what I do on the field.”
Murray did plenty in 2015, also too much and not enough. He was productive in his first season as feature back, using slashes and speed to create big runs from nothing. Effectiveness waned as games piled up, often late in games when balance was needed most. Murray was the team’s only ground option – quarterback Derek Carr was the second-leading rusher – and the Central Florida product expected more of himself despite an intense carry load.
Murray reviewed last year’s work and has learned from it. He’s better prepared for a lion’s share and believes improved efficiency lies ahead.
“Going into my fourth season, coming off of last year where I was a full-time starter, I’m definitely more confident,” Murray said. “I still have a lot to prove and a lot that I want to improve on, as far as my game. Looking forward to it.”
Murray won’t have to do it alone. The Raiders got some help. They added top interior lineman Kelechi Osemele in free agency and versatile runner DeAndre Washington in the NFL Draft’s fifth round.
Osemele’s added to a team strength along the offensive line, which many consider among the NFL’s best. The Raiders are massive from left tackle to right, with a nasty streak that should improve the running game.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Murray said. “There is going to be a lot of work that we have to put in. We’re just getting started and the work starts now. Hopefully, the hard work that we put in right now will pay off come fall.”
The Raiders added depth a running back with a player with a different style. Murray is a bigger player with breakaway speed. Washington is a bowling ball at 5-foot-8, someone capable of running inside and functioning well as a third-down back.
“He’s good,” Murray said. “He’s a quick guy, great speed, great vision. I think he looks real good. Excited to get to work with him; I’ll learn from him and hopefully he’ll learn from me.”
Adding to the position group was expected. Murray didn’t take Washington’s selection as a slight. The Raiders need depth at running back. There’s no arguing that.
“I knew that was going to be their decision going into the draft,” Murray said. “For me, it doesn’t change anything. I have to do what I have to do when I’m in the game. Coming in here and getting better every day, I just have to do my job. I’m sure he’s out there competing just like I am.”