Doug Martin has been a ghost in preseason games for the Oakland Raiders. He has four snaps and touched the ball once thus far, but don’t take that as a sign he’s fallen out of favor.
He’s not being shunned for other running backs. He’s being preserved for games that actually count.
“He has showed us a lot,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “We think he’s a really good back. I don’t know how much he’s going to play against Green Bay, honestly.”
The Raiders will play the Packers on Friday in the preseason’s third installment, where starters usually play into the second half. Gruden said Wednesday they’ll only make it to the second quarter.
The Raiders have practiced well, and coaches don't want to expose regulars to prolonged injury risk. That’s especially true for Martin and Marshawn Lynch.
“You go throughout training camp, and you do a lot of thudding in practice,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We do a lot of ball security drills offensively for the running backs. Poking and prodding with different type drills. But until they get out on the field and actually get a live contact, I think it’s a different mindset.
"We’ll get those guys some carries. Get them a chance to get a couple of thuds, and then we’ll get them out.”
Martin’s fine with that. He doesn’t need a huge preseason workload to feel comfortable within the running game. In fact, he’s already there. Martin has shown good burst, slashing ability and elusiveness in space. Timing with the offensive line is key, and he believes that can be honed with a few carries Friday.
“I came into a new system this year, but from OTAs, being in camp until now, I’ve gotten accustomed to the offensive line and doing camp with pads and practice,” Martin said. “So I definitely feel like I’m where I need to be.”
The same can be said for Martin’s location. Signing with the Raiders this offseason set up a homecoming of sorts for an Oakland native who grew up in Stockton.
His home base isn’t far away, and he has lots of friends and family in the East Bay. That has put Martin in a good mood working with the Raiders, helping prime what he and the coaches believe will be a career renaissance.
“It’s cool to call my mom, because she’s about an hour away, my friends are about 30, 40 minutes away that I grew up with in high school, cousins that live in Sacramento,” Martin said. “My grandpa lives right up the hill. It’s about like 14 minutes away. It’s nice to have those types of people around me. ...
"I have a lot of family around here, a lot of guys who live around here so, it’s comfortable. They do a good job of having that vibe around the organization that it’s a family vibe.”