Shortly after being hired as Raiders offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave praised young running back Latavius Murray and said he would tailor the run game to fit his talents.
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That may ultimately be the case; Murray may wow in the offseason program and in training camp, and become deserving of the lion’s share.
But that’s not the case just yet. The second-year pro was impressive late last season, but new Raiders head coach isn’t ready to anoint him as unquestioned feature back.
“I think he’s shown enough of the traits to make him a candidate to be that guy. I don’t know that he’s earned that, yet,” Del Rio said Thursday, during a lunch meeting with local beat reporters. “I think he’s shown that there’s potential there, and we’re excited about working with him and developing him to his fullest, and having him compete and whoever ends up being the best guy, we’ll let the best guy play. He has done enough things that pique your interest.”
Del Rio’s assessment is fair. Murray has just 82 carries and 17 receptions for 567 total yards as a professional. There are signs of explosiveness and workhorse ability, but nothing can be assumed from a player who has worked so little.
Del Rio has been intently evaluating his roster over the last few weeks, and has seen several positives in Murray. There are also areas to develop.
“He has good size, good speed,” Del Rio said. “There are some things that we’ll need to work to improve in terms of overall awareness, football IQ, things like that. But we think we can help him with coaching.”
Del Rio feels Murray can be helped in another way -- up front. While the offensive line proved solid in pass protection, the running game suffered in 2014. All that blame won’t be placed on veteran backs like Darren McFadden, who took most of the carries until Murray took over in Week 12.
“Quite frankly, there weren’t enough holes last year for backs to get loose and do their thing,” Del Rio said. “We want to make sure we’re doing our job up front, creating holes, knocking people off the ball and creating running lanes for guys like he and others that we talked about earlier, to have a chance to do their thing.”