OAKLAND – Latavius Murray ran off right tackle Menelik Watson, found some open space and slashed toward the sideline. His acceleration revs quick, and the Raiders rusher was in the second level in a snap en route to a 17-yard gain.
That was Murray on his second carry of Friday’s 18-3 preseason victory over the St. Louis Rams, turning an average gain into a big one.
Murray has a knack for that, with a home-run swing capable of connecting on any play. It’s equally impressive when he makes something of nothing. He did so late in the first quarter, producing four yards from a pile of mush.
Murray is far and away the Raiders’ best pure-rushing option, with size, speed and running smarts to crank out yards.
Murray had 35 yards on six carries and left the game without a physical toll. That’s a good day at the office in the preseason.
“He’s been looking really good,” head coach Jack Del Rio aside. “He hit the holes. He’s got good vision. He’s got good bounce. I think he’s done well.”
Murray enjoyed the starting offense’s dynamic. Quarterback Derek Carr was efficient, and found Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree with regularity. The offensive line blocked well and the unit moved downfield well in two series.
“It was really fun,” Murray said. “I was definitely excited and pleased just to see what we did early on in our first game like that. That (scoring) drive we put together, it just shows that we’re going to be a dangerous offense this year.”
Other notes from Friday’s victory:
-- Running backs after Murray had mixed results. Trent Richardson was just okay with the second unit, gaining 18 yards on five carries. Taiwan Jones had 15 yards on three rushes. Michael Dyer had 11 yards on five carries and George Atkinson III had six yards on six carries and dropped a screen pass with plenty of room to run after the catch.
-- The backup quarterback position battle could get heated. Christian Ponder played well after some lackluster training camp practices. He worked with the second unit and the first-team line. Matt McGloin was near perfect with the third team.
Del Rio wouldn’t commit to a change in hierarchy, though the quarterbacks could alternate with the second team in games.
“I’m not going to get into individual battles sitting here tonight,” Del Rio said. “I think you guys are with us all the time. You can see how it unfolds. There’s a lot of camp left. There’s a lot of preseason time to determine roles and things and I think we’ll just let it play out.”
-- Middle linebacker Ben Heeney played an excellent game with a team-high eight tackles. He recorded a sack, a quarterback hit and was a standout on defense and special teams with great energy and hustle.
-- Del Rio singled out a few players for their contributions. One was rookie tight end Clive Walford, who two receptions for 28 yards including a 22-yard strike from Christian Ponder.
-- Del Rio also singled out cornerback DJ Hayden, who started out alongside TJ Carrie in the base defense.
-- Del Rio said Carr was “really, really sharp” in a quarter of work. His passes were accurate and he was efficient getting his offense to the line of scrimmage.
-- Brice Butler, at times lost in a sea of receivers in training camp, had a good night. He had six receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown working with McGloin.
-- Defensive lineman Shelby Harris had big sack on 3rd-and-4 to force a Rams punt. Linebackers Josh Shirley and Ben Heeney had sacks. Justin Ellis had one taken away by offsetting penalties.
--The Raiders went tried a 2-point conversion after each touchdown scored on Friday, as Del Rio's staff tries to adjust to the league's new extra point rules. They failed both times on close plays.