The Oakland Raiders brought in running back Maurice Jones-Drew hoping that he could be a solid piece in their backfield. The team also re-signed running back Darren McFadden after years of injury plagued seasons. That has created a very interesting competition at running back that the Raiders hope will bring out the best in both backs.
In today's NFL, teams need a committee of running backs to help keep players fresh through the grind of a 16 game season. Oakland has Jones-Drew, McFadden, and 2013 sixth-round pick Latavius Murray all battling for carries. Jones-Drew and McFadden struggled through bad seasons the previous two years. McFadden is coming off back to back seasons where he averaged 3.3 yards per carry as well as dealt with numerous injuries. Jones-Drew has injured then posted a career low 3.4 yards per carry in 2013. For 2014, both are trying to put the past behind them and work together to be a force.
“Granted, everyone wants to be the guy, but I think with what we have here with myself and Darren [McFadden], and the other guys that are working their butts off, when these pads get on, you’re going to start seeing what we’re going to be about, and that is going to be running back-by-committee, which is going to help us because we’re going to be fighting every day to get the ball,” Jones-Drew said.
McFadden is focused on moving forward from the injuries and the past struggles.
“For us, we just go out there and play ball,” McFadden said of himself and Jones-Drew. “We don’t think about what happened in the past. For me, the past is behind me, I don’t even care to really talk about it really, so I’m moving forward. The only place I can go is up.”
That competition should fuel and motivate both McFadden and Jones-Drew. Both have proven they can be successful backs. McFadden averaged more than five yards a carry in 2010 and 2011 despite injuries still hampering him. Jones-Drew averaged well above four yards per carry from 2009-2012. The Raiders are trying to get the most out of both by pushing them against each other.
“That competition and that drive is what’s going to help us become a better backfield and try to be the best backfield in the league,” Jones-Drew said. “You go in everyday wanting to be the starter, but we understand what it is and that has to be your mindset going into this thing.”
The Raiders running back situation is fascinating because of Jones-Drew, McFadden, and even Murray. Jones-Drew and McFadden pushing each other and bringing out that competition in each other is exciting. On the other hand, the last few seasons for both have been tough. This will be a massive situation to keep an eye on throughout training camp and the preseason.Tags: Darren McFadden, Football, Latavius Murray, Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders