ALAMEDA – The Raiders' rushing attack got worse as Sunday’s game wore on -- yards per carry dropped from 5.1 to 2.9 from one half to the other, a trend atypically associated with double-digit leads.
That’s when a running game can cement victories. It’s also exactly how the Raiders long to play: get a decent lead, protect the football and keep running until the time runs out.
The Raiders couldn’t do that against the Chargers because they were losing a war of attrition. Darren McFadden was inactive with a hamstring strain and Rashad Jennings suffered one of his own midway through the second quarter. He tried to play through pain, but he was told to sit for good.
“That was a coaches decision,” Jennings said. “I didn’t take myself out. I wanted to keep playing.”
We’ll see if the bosses let Jennings suit up Sunday against Kansas City. Significant doubt shrouds McFadden’s playing status, possibly leaving them without the power rusher required to play Raiders football.
“We’ll see,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “We’ll go up and talk about it this afternoon, but I don’t expect Rashad [Jennings] to be a big issue, and hopefully Darren [McFadden] will be back soon.”
If they can’t go, the Raiders have Marcel Reece as a contingency plan. The fullback is a solid ball carrier, with a track record to make it fact. He started four games at halfback last season, and exceeding 100 total yards in three of them. Reece had 32 yards on seven carries and three catches for 25 yards.
He just didn’t get many carries until later in the game. After Jennings went out in the second quarter, the Raiders passed five straight times. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s ability to run eases the burden on running backs.
“I think having Terrelle Pryor back there helps our running game because he’s a guy that teams have to account for; whether he’s got the ball in his hands or not, teams have to account for him,” Allen said. “So, I thought that helped our run game. We ran for over 100 yards again in the game. For us to be a good offense we’re going to have to be a balanced offense; we’re going to have to be able to run the ball and throw the ball, and I think we did a pretty good job of that last night.”
The Raiders did well in waves, clearly better in the first half. Having a physical back healthy allows them to remain balanced and churn out first downs the old fashioned way.
That’s how Jennings likes to run. He came here to contribute steadily and fill in if McFadden fell injured. He considers his hamstring strain minor, although he was limping through the locker room on Monday afternoon.
“I do think I’ll be able to go,” Jennings said. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I’m ready. You can count on that.”