ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray only has 82 professional carries, but he’s inspired great confidence in the Raiders coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, for one, has become a fan over the last six months. They’ve seen the tools required for success during the offseason program and the preseason. Murray doesn’t need many game reps to validate those sentiments, cemented by the third-year pro’s willingness to work on becoming a well-rounded back.
"He’s made very positive impressions,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said after Thursday’s practice. “He has been working a lot on his hands so he can be a good receiver out of the backfield, because we don’t want a guy that’s going to be a liability when we go to throw the ball. He’s really been working on that. Of course, he’s got the body and the ability to really be a good player at this level.”
Murray stands 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, yet is a slasher with great breakaway speed. Murray is a big target, and has to keep his pad level down to be successful.
“Staying low is most definitely a big deal; that’s what he’s done his whole life,” Musgrave said. “He’s been blessed with his body so he’s got to protect it. He has a lot of surface to get hit because he’s so tall.”
Murray has found a way to turn small opportunities into big gains, by bouncing into a new rushing lane at as moments notice.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if those cuts are directly correlated to his vision,” Musgrave said. “He’s got great vision. Not just because he’s tall, even if he was 5-8. I think he’d have really good vision. He can anticipate things and jump through those cracks, almost before they open.”
Musgrave was asked about several running backs during his weekly press conference. While Murray is set to be the starting running back, there a fierce competition below him on the depth chart.
Here’s a look at what Musgrave said about other rushers in camp:
On undrafted rookie Michael Dyer: “Michael has impressed me in a lot of ways. You should see him in the meeting room. He’s very intense, into it, good energy, just a joy to be around. He’s had a good camp. He’s a young player, so he’s going to make a lot of mistakes. He’s got a lot of room to improve, but he has the right approach.”
On Roy Helu Jr.: “Roy brings a lot of experience. He’s had a lot of production there with the Redskins, and so glad to have him back out healthy. He’s been out a couple days. Hopefully, he can stay healthy.
“If he stays healthy. If he is available, we’re very willing to give him his opportunities (to be more than a third-down back).”