Oakland Raiders Preseason Week 2: Winners and Losers
Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) dives for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Winner: Latavius Murray
Latavius Murray has had a long road from college to being the starting running back of the Oakland Raiders. After being selected in the 6th round of the 2013 draft, Murray lost his entire rookie campaign to a knee injury. In 2014, Murray rode the bottom of the depth chart most of the season as carries went to veterans Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew before his breakout game in the Raiders’ first win against the Chiefs in week 11. Murray became the Raiders feature back in Week 13 and helped the Raiders to two more victories, carrying the ball 23 times in each winning effort.
Coming into this season, Murray has been the unquestioned feature back, unless you ask half the media, who thought that Murray might be pushed by free agent acquisitions Trent Richardson and Roy Helu. The Raiders have had a massive stable of backs in camp this year, including Taiwan Jones (who is a running back again after being a cornerback for two seasons) and rookie Michael Dyer. But Murray has stayed atop the depth chart and proved again on Saturday why he is the #1 horse in the running back stable.
Murray carried the ball only four times on Saturday before retiring to the sideline. But in those four carries he managed to amass 20 yards and a touchdown. Added together with his six carry, 35 yard performance in the preseason opener, he has now carried the ball 10 times for 55 yards and a score, operating against two very capable defensive fronts in the Rams and Vikings.
And it’s not just numbers, which can be inflated by solid blocking up front. Murray has LOOKED good. He takes the ball and hits the hole hard and with purpose. He makes the right reads and reacts decisively. He has all the athletic ability to change direction and escape defenders and the power to engage tacklers with physicality and pick up extra yards after contact. After two preseason starts, he looks every bit the part of an NFL feature back.
Of course Murray is not the only winner in the running backs group. Rookie free agent Michael Dyer put together a strong performance as well, and perhaps could be in the conversation to make the 53-man roster over a more veteran back.
Next: Loser: Matt McGloin