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.”