With the start of training camp 16 days away, the first in a series of questions or issues which will begin to be sorted out in Napa:
Can Michael Bush be convinced that he’s a big back?
During a routine locker room interview last season where he was referred to as a “big back” Bush smiled and rejected the label, the inference being that he may be big, but is also skilled. Once upon a time, he recoiled at the thought of playing fullback even when the club needed him there because of injury.
In a sense, Bush is right. He has excellent hands and is nimble afoot. He sees himself as multi-talented _ a former quarterback who can do many things but just happened to settle in as a running back.
But where Bush can help the Raiders the most by getting in touch with his inner beast. It’s been an ongoing goal of Raiders coaches. During a full-contact goal line scrimmage one night, former coach Lane Kiffin ran Bush into the middle where he was stopped by a ferocious hit by Kirk Morrison short of the goal line.
What did Kiffin do? He said Bush had actually scored the touchdown, and talked up the play to the media. It was as if Kiffin was hoping Bush would become a short-yardage and goal line threat by proclaiming it to be so, sort of like the way former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda nicknamed a young Orel Hershiser “Bulldog” because tenacity was the trait he wanted him to acquire.
Hue Jackson’s arrival has signified some power blocking to go with the zone scheme. He talked tough on the field about not caring about whether the defense knows it’s a run, because he’s going to run it anyway.
With Justin Fargas gone and Darren McFadden’s skills as a pure runner still an open question, Bush needs to come out of Napa convinced he’s a power back to help balance an improved passing game.