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Raiders feeling void at running back

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Nov. 09, 2012 @ 11:50 a.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The absence of a punishing complementary back for Darren McFadden has left a noticeable void on the Raiders.

They allowed the player who had served in that role for them during the majority of the past four seasons, Michael Bush, to depart in free agency in the offseason and the team is feeling the absence of a player in the mold of Bush as much as it ever has this season with McFadden and backup RB Mike Goodson unlikely to play in Week 10 after they both suffered high ankle sprains in Week Nine.

The club believes issues with its 31st-ranked rushing offense extend beyond the personnel at running back (the team’s zone-blocking scheme has recently been tinkered with to allow for more power-gap blocking), but our sources still expect the team to make addressing the void at running back a priority after the season. The Raiders did show interest in Cedric Benson and were connected to him for months when he was a free agent in the offseason, but the Raiders were not at all crushed when Benson decided to sign with the Packers in August.

However, McFadden, whose durability remains a concern, is on pace to set a career high in rushing attempts and a career low in yards per carry heading into Week 10. The team has not had enough confidence in any other back to give him significant opportunities to provide the spark that McFadden has failed to for much of the season. After McFadden (139 carries), no other Oakland back has more than 17 rushing attempts (Goodson).

With McFadden and Goodson, who is in the final year of his contract, ailing, the runners the team is likely to be counting on to carry the load vs. the Ravens on Sunday — RB Taiwan Jones and FB Marcel Reece — have only one carry apiece this season.

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