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Camp analysis: Running backs

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009 at 10:28 am in Oakland Raiders.

Second in a series of posts analyzing Raiders position groups with players scheduled to report to Napa in seven days:

Projected starters: HB Darren McFadden, FB Lorenzo Neal. Backups: RB Justin Fargas, RB Michael Bush, RB-FB Gary Russell, RB Louis Rankin, FB Luke Lawton, FB Oren O’Neal, FB Marcel Reece.

More often than not, it was McFadden taking snaps with the first team during the offseason, although both Fargas and Bush got considerable work as well. Apparently healed after having his season derailed by turf toe, McFadden is Oakland’s most explosive offensive player as a runner/receiver, and his paycheck befits a lead runner. Neal has been a body guard for the likes of LaDainian Tomlinson, Eddie George and Corey Dillon during their biggest seasons and coach Tom Cable says he moves well enough in space to be a zone blocker.

As much as the coaching staff likes Rankin, making the 53-man roster will be tough with three running backs accounted for as well as the arrival of running back/fullback Russell, who got a lot of work upon arrival this offseason.

Lawton could be the odd man out assuming Neal holds up and O’Neal is healthy. We’ll find out in a week if O’Neal can indeed join the contact fray or if he is still rehabbing a severe knee injury.

The key battle: Fargas vs. Bush. Fargas is a favorite of the coaching staff because he runs without fear and no regard for his personal safety. The feeling is it gives the offense a sense of toughness. But he’s largely a between-the-20s player because of limited receiving skills with just six rushing touchdowns and on 618 carries over the past three seasons (he has now receiving touchdowns during that span).

Bush compiled most of his 2009 stats on the strength of games in Week 2 against Kansas City and Week 17 against Tampa Bay, but he is such a force when on a roll it will be hard to justify not significantly increasing his workload.

What I think: Considering the attrition rate at the position, injuries will help determine the rotation. If McFadden, Bush and Fargas are all healthy, attempting to split the load three ways could prevent any of them from getting in a good rhythm.

Ideally, McFadden should get at least 225 carries and 50-plus receptions. Fargas will at some point be de-emphasized in favor of Bush. It’s just a matter of when.

Keep what the Raiders did with Greg Biekert in the back of your mind with regard to Fargas. Biekert was a starter, every bit as respected as Fargas. When it was determined Napoleon Harris would become the starting middle linebacker, Biekert was told he could take a paycut befitting his new role or be released and attempt to be a starter somewhere else. He chose the latter.

If Bush comes up huge in Napa . . .

What could go wrong: McFadden gets hurt again, suddenly making durability an issue after being an extremely durable back in the SEC. Bush isn’t quite the operator on a week-to-week basis that he was in two games last year, meaning the leading rusher is once again Fargas. Not bad, but not what the Raiders have in mind, either.

Rod Woodson’s legacy

Here are links to a story by beat writer Steve Corkran on Canton-bound Rod Woodson and a column by yours truly on the season-changing 98-yard interception return against the Denver Broncos.

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  • AZ Raider

    kk,

    total BS! I’m sick of these broke breezies trying to get a hand out from athletes… It’s pathetic!

  • AZ Raider

    Do you think Big Ben, or Kobe for that matter have to force themselves on women?

    I DON’T THINK SO TIM…

  • RaiderRockstar

    Edgerrin James is 123 yards behind Marcus Allen on the NFL’s all-time rushing charts.

    He ranks 11th currently behind Allen (10th, 12,243 yards), Marshall Faulk (9th, 12,279 yards), Jim Brown (8th, 12,312 yards) and Tony Dorsett (7th, 12,739).

    ***

    Wow! after this season Marcus Allen will no longer be Top 10 on the all-time rushing chart. your thoughts?

  • AZ Raider

    Who did James sign with????? Has anyone picked him up?

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Ben Rothlisberger accused of Rape

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/sports/football/22roethlisberger.html?em

    I don’t see all the self-righteous indignation from the Podunk County types this morning. Funny that.
    ——————-
    RaiderRockstar???? we can usually count on you for your moralizing opinion, comment?

  • AZ Raider

    i think if davis would have let Allen play instead of having a vendetta agaist him, Allen would be #1 on the list and it wouldn’t be an issue. Good job Al, geez…

  • RaiderRockstar

    I don’t see all the self-righteous indignation from the Podunk County types this morning. Funny that.

    ***

    I’m sure everybody that lives in the midwest is considered “podunk” in your opinion. Kansas City, St Louis, Chicago, etc. For a guy that claims to be smart, you sure are a buffoon.

    oh yeah, and a racist, hypocrit and coward … don’t talk to me. I’d talk have a convo with quality people

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’d rather have a convo … excuse me

    typo!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    RaiderRockstar

    You had plenty of moralizing sermons when Steve McNair got killed. No comments on Big Ben’s behavior?????? hummmmmm.

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Could Fargas get squeezed out of Oakland?
    Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on July 22, 2009 1:10 PM ET
    Justin Fargas always runs like a man possessed, never worried about taking a big hit.

    For that reason, he’s been a favorite in Oakland, especially the last three seasons as a starter.

    But Fargas’ run as a starter appears to be ending with Darren McFadden’s emergence, and the Oakland Tribune hints that Fargas could run right off the team.

    The Raiders have three quality backs in McFadden, Fargas, and Michael Bush. Jerry McDonald writes that, “Fargas will at some point be de-emphasized in favor of Bush. It’s just a matter of when.”

    Bush broke out last season in Week 17 with 177 yards, a performance that sent Jon Gruden to ESPN and likely warmed Al Davis’ heart. He could give Oakland some power near the goal line that the team has lacked.

    If the youngsters stay healthy in training camp (which hasn’t been easy for them), Fargas could conceivably drop below Bush on the depth chart. He would be due $3.5 million as a third-stringer.

    At that point, the Raiders could potentially ask Fargas to take a pay cut or take off.

    While the Raiders would take a cap hit to release him, they would save real dollars in the transaction.

    No matter what happens, this is the sort of good problem the Raiders haven’t often had in recent years. Any step forward in the standings will likely be lead by their running game, which has quietly produced impressive numbers ever since Tom Cable showed up in 2007.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    La Milicia Negra Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 9:49 am
    BSJ…

    http://www.letour.fr/2009/TDF/LIVE/us/1700/journal_etape.html#zone135309

    “We don’t have so many chances on this Tour but the ones that we have, we take. Yesterday after the stage, I was really down because of the crash of Jens (Voigt) but hopefully we could cheer him up a little with what we did in the stage today. Everything worked out as we planned it.
    “Now we have the time trial, so everybody will be on his own. Then we go up Mont Ventoux and it’s true that Contador is really strong… but we saw today that we were able to isolate him and on the Ventoux we might see the same thing. We’ll wait and see but a win there would be fantastic.
    “There comes a time when we all get a little bit tired. It could be the same for Contador. I would never say that he’s insecure but perhaps he’s a little bit nervous; he has ridden now with two Schlecks around him and – bang, bang! From the left and right we attacked him… but it was also a good operation by him today.”

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Sorry, by personal request my IT staff blocks all URLs with the suffix “.fr”.

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Opps, From PFT

  • RaiderRockstar

    Who did James sign with????? Has anyone picked him up?

    ***

    nobody yet, but I’m sure somebody will. He might rush for 125 yards in one game. Teams might be waiting to find out if players on their roster are duds in training camp. camp always produces injuries too

    Even in a complimentary role or 3rd string RB role, 125 yards is only 8 yards per game

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    LMN, I gather you were referring to the bicycle festival the frogs are having. No interest here, although your buddy Copenhagen Fan may find that treacle worth discussing.

    As for me, I would rather eat mushed duck liver.

  • ottocrat

    Wow. Jerry must feel pretty powerful. All he did was speculate about the future of Fargas, and PFT really…err…took the ball and ran with it.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Q: Who is better overall, Justin Fargas Or Dmac

    A: I can’t call it as to who is better but all I have heard this offseason is how McFadden has been spectacular. Based on that, I think McFadden will get the majority of touches, including in the passing game. Michael Bush also will be a factor out of the backfield.

    Steve Wyche, NFL.com

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    KoolKell Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 10:01 am
    Ben Rothlisberger accused of Rape

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/sports/football/22roethlisberger.html?em

    I don’t see all the self-righteous indignation from the Podunk County types this morning. Funny that.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Splain? Are you implying that you believe Raider fans who do not live in an urban hellhole would react to this story in a certain way? Isn’t that prejudice, KK?

    Perhaps I can help you out a bit, as you appear to be begging us to provoke you and reinforce your bigotry:

    Rothlisberger? No way he touched her! Don’t they realize he’s white? His name ain’t LeDonte Washington is it?!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Q: DO YOU THINK KIRK MORRISON FROM THE RAIDERS HAS THE POTENTIAL OF BEING THE BEST LB IN THE LEAGUE?

    A: Zimmy, Morrison is a stud. Unfortunately for him, he won’t get the credit he deserves because he plays on losing team. Opposing players tell me that he is good, but guys like Patrick Willis, Ray Lewis, Jon Beason, Bradie James and others tend to get more love.

    Steve Wyche, NFL.com

  • http://www.actionext.com/playlist_57486.html La Milicia Negra

    # Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 10:22 am

    LMN, I gather you were referring to the bicycle festival the frogs are having. No interest here, although your buddy Copenhagen Fan may find that treacle worth discussing.

    As for me, I would rather eat mushed duck liver.
    ___________________________________________________

    well you brought it up a few days ago, that you were so proud that there were 4 americans in the top 10, my response, they havent hit the mountains yet, then Saxobank would be in top 5….

  • AZ Raider

    Punch that lying broke h00ker in the ovary!

  • AZ Raider

    RR,

    post the whole interview if they are talking Raiders

  • RaiderRockstar

    LOL @ AZ & BSJ …

    there ya go Kell. there is the spirited responses you were looking for!

    I’m sure my opinion can’t be THAT important to you :)

  • OAKlifer

    deserves because he plays on losing team. Opposing players tell me that he is good, but guys like Patrick Willis,………………..

    Isnt willis on a LOSING team as well????

  • RaiderRockstar

    post the whole interview if they are talking Raiders

    ***

    yes sir boss man! it was a Q & A session about the NFL in general AZ. I posted the only 2 items regarding the Raiders …

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 7th, 2009 at 2:06 pm
    having no Honor and bashing a dead man, when we all make mistakes

    ***

    bashing a dead man? he cheated on his wife. that makes him a scumbag. thats the truth, thats not “bashing”

    McNair had no honor.

    it’s not considered a mistake if you plan it ahead of time either ….

    so say your wife waits until you leave for work and invites the mailman in for some “fun”. is that considered a mistake? would that be easy to brush off your shoulder? put yourself in his wife or kids sho3s man. he was going to leave his family and marry this crazy 20 yr old chick

  • NoMoreFargas

    If they cut fargas should I just use my real name Louis Rankin?

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Repost:

    RaiderRockstar

    You had plenty of moralizing sermons when Steve McNair got killed. No comments on Big Ben’s behavior?????? hummmmmm.

  • RaiderRockstar

    His surname “Roethlisberger” (Swiss-German spelling: Röthlisberger) is of Swiss origin with roots in the village of Geissbuehl Lauperswil, Switzerland. He is a spokesman for Swiss Roots, a campaign intended to help Americans of Swiss origin reconnect with their Swiss ancestral heritage. In May 2006, Roethlisberger and his family traveled to Switzerland for a week.

    ***

    Kell: I’m sure your wife thinks he’s innocent!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    She’s heard of him, but I’m asking for your comments.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Just making a point. Later.

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’m asking for your comments

    ***

    Why? if I wanted to comment on the situation I would have …

  • RaiderRockstar

    Later norbit.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 7:02 am
    Oakglenn Says:
    July 21st, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    The F-35 was a failed aircraft that required 30 hours of maintenance for every couple of minutes in was in the air. It was too expensive to continue to deploy, and ridiculous to order more of them. Both Obama and McCain agreed on that. One of the rare things they both agreed on. Right now, the US spends more on military than the next 7 nations COMBINED.
    ____________________________________________________

    You must mean the F-22, not the F-35 since the Govt is buying/building 2,400 of the F-35s?????

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    I can’t believe that she is still working at Harrah’s. Wonder if she has gotten any performance or merit bonus’s lately. LOL

  • RaiderRockstar

    good day Exla, Dakota …

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    exlaraiderticket, you’re an idiot.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    KK,

    Why would anyone condemn Ben Roethlisburegervillestein right now? He hasn’t even been charged with a crime which is the number one way to tell that his accuser’s civil case is BS. As soon as we have a reason, we will jump on him, but there isn’t one yet.

  • 24

    Some of you dog on the Raiders O-Line but I don’t think its all that bad. Some dog on JR but look at what he was able to do against the Bucs Defense. Also consider the O-Line had ALOT to do with how well JR played and how well Bush ran the ball. Now if Fargas was in charge of running the ball behind that line…you probably would have had more of a negative result in my opinion but this line was a big reason we won that game so theres plenty of promise to look at and we’ve only added more quality depth if anything.

    Henderson “should” start at LT. I don’t give a fuk what Barnes did with someone else, Henderson deserves to prove it until he messes up and if he does, give it to Barnes.

    Gallery has been nothing but solid.

    Satele is an upgrade over Grove because he fits our system better, hes younger AND he should be more durable than Grove ever was.

    Carlisle is a good player and has been as consistent as Gallery and probably has alot to do with the turnaround of Gallery as a mentor to him. Carlisle was one of 2 guys that came from a cut blocking system and was responsible for helping everyone around him and hes been nothing but solid. I don’t understand why anybody would bag on him or think that McQuistan could step in for him. McQuistan has had plenty of time to take a starting position and he hasn’t.

    Barnes “should” be a nice fit for the RT position unless Pears is even better but if this guy was worth anything as a LT, he should be even better as a RT and maybe our best since Lincoln Kennedy if he can make the adjustment. Either way, our depth is much more improved over last year and we finished strong against the Bucs.

  • 24

    Dakota – What is your take on the NBA signings of Shaq to the Cavaliers, Wallace to the Celtics and Artest to the Lakers?

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 10:49 am

    His surname “Roethlisberger” (Swiss-German spelling: Röthlisberger) is of Swiss origin with roots in the village of Geissbuehl Lauperswil, Switzerland. He is a spokesman for Swiss Roots, a campaign intended to help Americans of Swiss origin reconnect with their Swiss ancestral heritage. In May 2006, Roethlisberger and his family traveled to Switzerland for a week.

    ……

    Wow.. File that under Whoooooooooo cares?!?

    You guys won’t hear one word of a black or Latino bringing their race and heritage into any argument, but we’ve got to hear about Big Ben’s relatives in the Alps and his Swiss activism? Give me a pillow.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Dakota, a civil case is only merited if there’s a criminal case? Ben R. is a celebrity, who’s rich. It’s very difficult to….oh, wait, you’re from Dakota. There’s no point in it.

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    Kell, you’re being way too harsh on McNair. How do you know he and his wife weren’t having problems? So what if his gf was 20? Last I checked, the age of consent is 18. Sounds like haterism, to me.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    24,

    Shaq to Clev was a chance worth taking for the cavs IMO. I doubt it will work, but they had to try something to impress LBJ. I think Shaq will take away many of James’ drives to the hoop, whereas Ilgaskus was able to clear the lane by taking his man away from the hoop with his ability to hit open jump shots.

    I love Wallace to the C’s…actually, as a Lakers’ fan I hate it…that guy torches us. But I am wondering what they plan on doing with him when Garnett plays…play KG or Wallace at C? That will not work against Clev, Orland or the Lakers.

    Artest to the Lakers won’t mean a thing unless we re-sign LO. If LO is back, and Artest plays like he did last season, the Lakers will be very hard to beat…as long as Artest doesn’t break down the triangle with selfish isolations and drives we should be fine. If he can be content in hitting open jumpers and locking down the opposition’s best perimeter players, we might be great.

  • dhitz71

    The deal on McNair is that he was going to divorce his wife as he told her he would. So she knew about the pending divorce but she didnt know about the girl. McNair country boy self just didnt know how to be a playa and with a 20 year old he must of though he was a rookie in the league. But he wasnt a player outside of the NFL or he would still be alive today.

  • 24

    New post!

  • http://none The Real MaddenRaider

    dhitz, listen to you. We won’t know rather or not you would do the same thing as McNair until we see a 20 year old hottie throw herself at you. You and I both know that hasn’t happened in a looooong time, or perhaps it never has happened.

  • CJ Legend 34

    A buddy told me a long time ago. The way you keep your self out of situations like McNair was in is do not put yourself in compromising situations. It was not the lust of a crazy 20 year old chick that killed him. He put himself in a very compromising situation. He was one on one with her, drunk and a sleep on her couch. That would have been a good night for him to home to his mansion have pizza with his kids watch a movie and go to bad. Being at home is not that bad crew. It saved me a life full of troubles many times. If your wife is getting on your nerves go for a walk, go to bed or spend time with your wonderful children. In McNairs case he could have went on the other side of his mansion. Not to mention his wife had his children and the woman looks pretty good herself.

    He had a choice, he knew the price and sadly it cost him his life.

    RIP McNair!

  • CJ Legend 34

    Ouch typos like crazy but you get the message!

  • dhitz71

    Madden Raider…No doubt…Im Married. However Im not old looking but will tell you str8 up….NOPE…not 20….20 dont know shigg…and she wasnt all that hot.

  • dhitz71

    CJ Legend. I totally dig that. Take it home but not some crazy 20 year old Iranian chic,…(my bad Iranian folks I have no hate) But when I saw that I was like whoa!!!