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Rhodes back, Bush waits his turn

Dominic Rhodes and Michael Bush are next door neighbors near a corner of the Raiders locker room.

The two also spent the first month of the season apart from their teammates once practice began, working out separately with members of the Raiders training staff whose job it is to get them ready to play.

In Rhodes case, it wasn’t to get him ready but to keep him ready. He missed the first four games of the season serving a suspension for violating the NFL policy on substance abuse related to a DUI last Feb. 20.

Bush’s case is different. He suffered a badly broken leg last Sept. 3, underwent two surgeries and has been rehabbing ever since.

So they spent the first month spending a lot of time talking about playing when they wished they were actually playing.

“He’s been running with me for the last month,” Bush said. “Today he said, `See y’all later. I can’t do it today.’ I told him before too long I’ll be out there with you.”

Rhodes was delighted to rejoin his teammates at practice Wednesday, while Bush remained on the outside looking in.

The Raiders have remained fairly guarded about Bush’s status until coach Lane Kiffin Monday spoke about how close the fourth-round pick looked to being ready to go in terms of conditioning.

There was talk at the close of training camp Bush would be placed on injured reserve, rather than the Physically Unable to Perform list. Starting Oct. 15, a three-week window begins where Bush will be either activated or put on I.R.

It seems at this point activating Bush is the more likely scenario, particularly with LaMont Jordan slowed with a back injury. Jordan did not practice Wednesday and was working with a member of the training staff, attempting to step over hurdles.

He looked much better than when last seen Sunday following the Dolphins game, but backs are tricky. It could be a maintenance issue with the Raiders going to more of a committee approach including Jordan, Rhodes and Fargas.

Bush at this point remains an intriguing wild card.

He hasn’t taken a handoff or caught a pass in a team situation since Sept. 3, 2006, the day he broke his leg in the season opener at Louisville.

There is no way to know until he gets on the field whether Bush will be of any help in the near future. Bush said he has kept his weight at around 240 pounds for the past month.

“It’s been a year and a month so it’s been awhile,” Bush said. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. But I think a player is going to adapt. Once I get out there, get hit a couple of times, have some fun, get the feel of the game, I don’t feel it will be too long.”

News and notes:

– DE Derrick Burgess took the field with his defensive line teammates during warmups and drills, but it is not known how much work he got in during practice. Kiffin will not be made available to the media this week.

– QB Josh McCown continues to wear a boot on his left foot and was walking toward the practice field to watch as practice started.

– LB Isaiah Ekejiuba was on the field, but working out with injured players, running on his injured foot. Joining Ekejiuba was FB Oren O’Neal (hamstring) as well as injured reserve players Fred Wakefield and Jonathan Holland.

– Kiffin gathered the team before drills to announce that Daunte Culpepper had been named the AFC player of the week after rushing for three touchdowns and passing for two against the Miami Dolphins.

– Rhodes’ return is the subject of a story published in Thursday’s editions of the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.

– Comings and goings: The Raiders did not make a move as yet to replace Dave Tollefson, who signed with the New York Giants. Former Raider Alvis Whitted was one of five Raiders who worked out for the club Tuesday, the others being Brandon Williams, Courtney Roby, Bryan Gilmore and Rod Gardner. Gilmore re-signed with the 49ers. Neither Whitted nor Gardner, a former first-round draft pick, would be eligible for the practice squad. Former Raiders who had workouts of late included C Adam Treu (Giants), Travis Taylor (Dolphins) Zack Crockett (Bucs) and Pete McMahon (Seahawks).

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer