Latavius Murray invaluable as Raiders run game breaks out

Latavius Murray invaluable as Raiders run game breaks out

OAKLAND – Latavius Murray had 306 touches last season in a Pro Bowl campaign. The Raiders running back was a workhorse in 2015, a heavy burden he isn’t asked to bear this time around.

The Raiders have a productive rotation with Murray, DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard, allowing all to feel fresh during the season’s first half.

That offers Murray pros and cons. He’s physically well, but might not be getting the opportunities someone in a contract year needs to demand a big-money deal.

He’s on pace for far fewer carries in a productive by-committee approach, but his teammates say he hasn’t shown an ounce of selfishness in this new rushing order.

“He is our No. 1 running back; he is a leader,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “You should see how he is helping these two young running backs out. Sometimes he wants them to go in and get them a rep. Some guys all want it for themselves, but he takes a step back and likes to see the rotation. Some guys would be mad about that, but Latavius is grasping that role. It is doing a lot of good for us.”

There are times when everyone needs an equal cut. There are others that demand a feature player. On Sunday night, Murray was the lead dog in a dominant rushing performance that paced a 30-20 victory over the Denver Broncos at Oakland Coliseum.

He had 20 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, his first triple digit rushing performance since Nov. 1, 2015. He hasn’t hit 20 carries since Dec. 20 last year, and took full advantage of the workload.

Murray averaged 5.7 yards per carry, and scored three times from a yard out. He had three carries over 10 yards, including a 42-yard scamper that set up his second touchdown.

“It felt really good,” Murray said. “We wanted to run the ball coming in. We knew they had given up a lot of rushing yards, so we knew we had to run the ball to go out there and be successful and we were able to do that really well. Not just me, the other backs too. It starts up front. Those guys create a new line of scrimmage for me and it makes it easy.”

This was just the fourth time Murray has hit triple digits running the football. He has the size and ability to be a consistently featured player, but has become the alpha of a pack that has the Raiders running strong behind a productive offensive line.

As a group, the Raiders rushed 43 times for 218 yards and a 5.1-yard average. The Raiders struggled some when Murray missed two games with turf toe, but have been productive with the 26-year old leading the charge.

“He’s amazing. He went to the Pro Bowl (last year) for a reason,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “…I can’t say enough about Latavius. He is invaluable to this team.”

Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection


Raiders sign linebacker with Paul Guenther connection

The Raiders entered this free agency period needing defensive help throughout the depth chart. They signed presumptive starters earlier in this veteran acquisition process, but didn’t stop there.

The Silver and Black have added depth this week especially, signing a key cog in linebacker Emmanuel Lamur on Wednesday afternoon.

Lamur spent the last two years in Minnesota and the previous four in Cincinnati with new Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. Guenther was his position coach from 2012-13 and his DC from 2014-15. He also knows Raiders linebackers coach David Lippincott from the Bengals days

Lamur has primarily been a reserve, but Guenther gave him an opportunity to start in 2014. He had 59 tackles and two interceptions in 13 starts that year as a strongside linebacker.

The Raiders have options at that spot, but no firm starter at this stage if Bruce Irvin plays defensive end full time.

Lamur hasn’t played much defense the last two years, but is known as a quality special teams contributor. The Raiders have signed several of those players in an attempt to improve coverage and returns.

All told, the Raiders have signed 14 unrestricted free agents with a shot to make the 53-man roster since last week began. The roster will turnover significantly in Jon Gruden’s return to the Raiders, and it’s possible he signs more players in coming days.

The Raiders are still looking for upgrades at receiver, and might add another bargain defensive lineman.

Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders


Report: Ndamukong Suh calls off meeting with Raiders

Ndamukong Suh won’t meet with the Raiders, after all. The star defensive tackle cut Alameda out of his free-agent tour, according to NFL Network, choosing instead to head home after stops in New Orleans, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams.

NFLN reports that Suh had dinner with Rams coach Sean McVay on Tuesday night, and was due in Oakland the following day. The Rams made a solid impression

Suh is reportedly mulling options from all three aforementioned playoff teams, all of which have more working salary-cap space and other stalwarts along the defensive line.

That’s surely a disappointment for the Raiders, who have had interest in Suh dating back to his last free-agent experience in 2015. The Silver and Black couldn’t afford him then. It seems unlikely they can afford him now, with precious little salary-cap space remaining after being active in free agency’s second wave.

The Raiders also hope to lock Khalil Mack up long-term with a massive extension this offseason.

It’s uncertain at this stage whether player or team cancelled the meeting, or exactly why it was called off. The Raiders could still sign a veteran defensive tackle, and/or acquire one early in the NFL Draft.