The day the Raiders beat the Broncos 59-14 and established that the 2010 team might be something different than the seven previous editions that lot 11 or more games, Louis Murphy was having a hard time enjoying the celebration.
Murphy was too busy coughing up blood, having taken a sideline hit that gave him a bruised lung and cost him two games.
“I’d never been hurt before. Never missed a game in my life,” Murphy said Friday. “Being hurt and missing games, it takes away from your rhythm. I had to learn that, see how it felt, come back and get into rhythm, get into the flow of the game.”
With the Broncos coming to town for the rematch Sunday at the Coliseum, Murphy is coming off a 6-catch, 59-yard game against Jacksonville. He caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jason Campbell, his first touchdown since Week 2 and a 4-yard touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski.
“I felt like my old self against Jacksonville, and it didn’t hurt to be back home, back in Florida, my entire family watching,” Murphy said.
His first touchdown this season came while catching 15 passes over his first three games. Coming off a 34-catch, 521-yard rookie season with four touchdowns, it wasn’t difficult to envision Murphy doubling his catches and yardage, giving the Raiders their first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss had 60 catches for 1,005 yards in 2005.
Murphy’s Week 7 injury and an inconsistent passing offense in part due to the Campbell-Gradkowski quarteback shuffle will leave him well short of 1,000 yards. But he’s still Oakland’s most productive wideout with 36 catches and 530 yards and he’s not done yet.
“I feel right now I have three games left, I have better stats than last year except for the touchdowns,” Murphy said. “I can still finish the season strong.”
As for the potential of a wet one Sunday, bring it on.
“I love the rain. That’s my favorite,” Murphy said. “Ever since I was a little kid, playing football games in the rain is like second nature . . . you know where you’re going. You know what’s going on. The DB doesn’t know. He could slip. I’m excited about this game and what’s at stake.”
Some Saturday notes and observations:
— U.S. Marines will be stationed at gates throughout the Coliseum and at the BART station to collect new unwrapped toys for their annual Toys for Tots campaign.
— If you’re not going to the game, Marcel Reece and Kamerion Wimbley will be signing autographs in exchange for toys at the Raider Image store at Hayward’s Southland Mall Tuesday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
— When offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was asked about his reluctance to split Darren McFadden outside on occasion as a wide receiver, his logic was sound. Having McFadden in the backfield, where he’s a threat to either catch it or run it, as opposed to leaving him outside, where he’s clearly only going to catch it (with the exception of a reverse), is to the Raiders advantage in terms of strategy.
Here would be my amateur rebuttal: Putting McFadden in motion, in the slot, or outside on occasion in alignment with Michael Bush in the backfield as a single back could draw a defender out of the box and open things up for Bush.
I would stress “on occasion.” McFadden has clearly established himself as a quality runner, both inside and outside.
— The CNN-SI “Draft redux” article by Don Banks in which he does a draft do-over has created a buzz among some Raider fans, who were delighted to see three Raiders moved into the first round _ defensive end Lemarr Houston (No. 22 by Denver instead of WR Demaryius Thomas), wide receiver Jacoby Ford (No. 25 by Denver instead of QB Tim Tebow), and offensive tackle Jared Veldheer (No. 30 by Detroit instead of RB Jahvid Best).
As noted earlier, Banks had the Raiders drafting wide receiver Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State in hindsight, with Rolando McClain lasting until No. 20 before being taken by Houston.
As long as we’re dabbling in hindsight and fantasy, let’s take it a step further.
In 2009, the Raiders pass on Darrius Heyward-Bey and instead take Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher (who went No. 23 to Baltimore) or Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe (No. 8 to Jacksonville) to give them a second tackle to go along with Veldheer for the next decade.