ALAMEDA – The Raiders didn’t know until after their loss to Seattle in London that Marshawn Lynch got hurt. The veteran running back, after all, was active in the team’s final offensive series.
It was a while later when the Raiders realized his groin injury was a big deal. Bad news came upon further evaluation, when an MRI confirmed he would miss an extended stretch. Lynch is on injured reserve now, meaning it’s Doug Martin’s turn to become the Raiders’ main back.
He was a feature player when healthy for six seasons in Tampa Bay, before an encouraging meeting with head coach Jon Gruden prompted him to sign a one-year deal with the Raiders this offseason.
His carries, however, slowed to a trickle as Lynch showed dominant form. He hasn’t had more than nine in a game, and logged seven total in the last three games.
“I’ve been a lead guy since high school, so it has been difficult for me,” Martin said before Thursday’s practice. “I have had people in my ear telling me to keep working hard and pushing for a time like this week.”
Martin’s time is now. He’ll be a feature player in a Raiders offense that lost Lynch and receiver Amari Cooper on Monday, and is looking to find old form following two straight seasons averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
Martin has plenty to prove during this stretch. Lynch won’t be back until a Dec. 24 affair against Denver at the earliest, and it’s possible BeastMode won’t return at all this season, meaning Martin has an extended stretch to show he’s still got it.
“I’m 29, pushing 30,” Martin said. “I signed over here for one year, so this is definitely an opportunity to show the league and the Raiders and all my doubters that I can still play. ... I have a lot of miles left on these wheels."
Martin may take Lynch’s carry count, but he won’t be expected to mimic his predecessor on the field.
“There’s a different style, a little bit, between those two runners,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “Marshawn has a package of plays that suit his skills, and Doug has a package of plays that suits his skills. They both fit within the system. We’re excited to see what he can do.”
Martin will be the primary back on rushing downs. Jalen Richard will maintain his role as third-down back and DeAndre Washington will find a role as a reserve after being inactive the first six games.
The Raiders are 1-5 heading into Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, fresh off the Amari Cooper trade with only a bye week separating them from a beatdown by Seattle. The locker room’s in a weird space, but Martin insists the Raiders will come to play and win against the Colts.
“Nobody wants to lose multiple games, but right now we’re playing for each other,” Martin said. “We’re still going, and it’s not too late. There are a lot of games left. Guys on this team have a lot of pride. We’re not going to go down without a fight.”