Editor’s note: Insider Scott Bair will be providing position-by-position breakdowns each day leading up to Raiders training camp, which opens on July 31.
Who they have: Latavius Murray, Trent Richardson, George Atkinson III, Michael Dyer, Roy Helu Jr. Taiwan Jones, Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale
Who they lost: Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Kory Sheets
Looking back: The Raiders relied on ineffective veterans far too long. Jones-Drew was brought in to be a steady producer, and never got in sync after a Week 1 hand injury. He didn’t show burst from earlier in his career at any point, and wasn’t involved in the game plan.
McFadden was healthy all year and became the primary ball carrier, but he remained ineffective at 3.3 yards per carry.
The Raiders went to Latavius Murray late in the year. He gave the running game a jolt with breakaway speed and enough strength to run between the tackles.
Fullback Marcel Reece struggled to find a consistent role despite his versatile talents, and Jamize Olawale proved to be a solid blocker and special-teams player.
Overall outlook: The Raiders are hoping Murray can be the primary running back. He fared well over 82 carries last year, but must do so over the course of a season to legitimize a running game that has struggled in recent seasons.
Free-agent signee Roy Helu Jr. is a quality receiver out of the backfield, and should play a prominent role in coordinator Bill Musgrave’s offense.
Reece is another quality option running and receiving.
Camp competition: Trent Richardson is playing for his third team in two years, and Oakland may be his last chance to establish himself in the NFL. A rough camp could put that opportunity in jeopardy. A solid preseason could earn carries, especially if he lives up to the potential that made him 2012’s No. 3 overall draft pick.
Fans are interested in seeing Michael Dyer, who had a productive college career derailed by off-field issues. He’s now 25, and must look good right away to make this roster.
Bottom line: The Raiders certainly hope Richardson can be productive, though Murray is option No. 1 to take most of the carries. Helu is a solid third-down back who has rushed well when given the opportunity. If Richardson doesn’t pan out, he could see more carries should Murray get hurt.
If all goes as expected, those Murray, Helu and Reece will get most of the touches from an effective backfield.