The Raiders hoped to use Maurice Jones-Drew as a full-time running back. That was the expectation heading into the regular-season opener against the New York Jets, but injury has thrown a kink in those plans.
Jones-Drew had surgery to repair what sources confirm was a broken right hand this week, a procedure that will keep him out of Sunday’s home opener against the Houston Texans.
That leaves Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray to improve a running game that struggled mightily against the Jets. In this instance, it won’t be a next-man up philosophy, with McFadden assuming Jones-Drew’s role from a week ago. The Raiders will use a different strategy this time around.
“It depends on how the game plays out,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “If we have somebody with a hot hand, we are going to go with him. But all of our backs will play.”
The Raiders don’t believe the running game suffered from a lack of execution. They believe struggles came from a lack of rhythm instead. That suggests production can increase with steady reps, but they have to be productive.
The Raiders believe McFadden and Murray can do that.
“We didn’t feel good when we left the game on Sunday,” McFadden said. “After watching the tape, we felt like we could’ve caught fire with more attempts. We just had to get going.”
McFadden should start and get a significant number of touches. He’s ready for the increased workload.
“I really feel like I had a good preseason and established a good foundation for myself. I just want to keep improving each week. I look forward to the opportunity to get carries and help this running game.”
Murray told reporters that he was excited to get his first carry after a solid preseason and a rookie year spent on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
“We’ll start with Darren, but it will probably be more of a series or situational breakdown this week with Darren and Latavius.”