ALAMEDA -- Of course the main goal for the Raiders this weekend should be to beat San Diego on Sunday and hold out hope for things to fall in a manner that allows them to get into the playoffs.But how satisfying would it be for all involved to see Michael Bush gain 89 yards on the ground against the Chargers to get to 1,000 yards for the season, the benchmark for any NFL running back, especially since Bush did not become the starter until Week 9?"Oh gosh, for him personally, it's well deserved," said Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders. "And he's been a workhorse for this football team since he's been here and this is the first time he's had an extended opportunity to be a starter and I think our offensive line is excited about the possibility of him reaching that (milestone) and we're all excited for him, too, so hopefully that will happen."Bush is a superstitious-type, ever since he broke his leg as a senior in college at Louisville. So don't expect him to weigh in on such things.But his offensive line would love nothing more than to see a 1,000-yard season for him."It would be great," said center Samson Satele. "He's kind of quiet about it, but I know he wants it, and we want it, too, as bad as he does."When we run the ball and run the ball good, we're unstoppable. Once we get that big boy rolling, we're unstoppable."At San Diego on Nov. 10, Bush rumbled for 157 yards on the ground, 242 yards from scrimmage, the most by a Raiders player since Art Powell had 247 all-purpose yards in 1963."They're going to have something different," Satele said of the Chargers. "We ran the ball a lot and got a lot of yards, so they're going to have something different out there. But Bush will make them pay for that."Bush replaced Darren McFadden after he went down with what the Raiders deemed a "mid-foot" sprain of his right foot against Kansas City on Oct. 23."That's why it's so difficult in this league to be the lead back and the lead ballcarrier for game after game after game," Saunders said. "You need to have some people that can go in and spell him. He's been a workhorse, there's no doubt about that. Defensive coaches generally look at what you do well and take away that first."Bush had consecutive 30-carry games against San Diego and Minnesota, but has seen his yards-per-attempt fall accordingly."In this league, each week, you don't get any healthier. You usually either maintain what you are or you're a little sore, a little beat up and he's had a lot of hits. How does that equate to his production? We think he's been very productive. Maybe not number-wise, but certainly in what he's been asked to do. But it takes a toll on you after a while."
STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.
This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.
Coaches enter the draft evaluation process relatively late – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.
That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.
“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.
“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”
Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.
Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.
“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”
Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.
“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”
Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.
“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”
A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.
The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:
"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."
Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.