Everyone knows Oakland will be pounding the ball this year with their three-headed monster of Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, and Darren McFadden. More than ever, NFL teams are using a combination of backs to wear down defenses and avoid injuries.
What no one knows right now is who, if anyone, will be the featured back.
Fortunately, they all three have separate skill sets, and each of them seems to have the ability to be the "workhorse."
Here's what we know about each:
Darren McFadden can run like the wind. His speed in college is what undoubtedly caught the eye of Al Davis. He showed the ability to carry the load last season against Kansas City, but battled turf toe most of the year. I'm hoping this is why he didn't leave safety Bernard Pollard in his wake in Week Two.
He is not exceptional at breaking tackles. His hips are tight when avoiding tacklers and he hasn't yet shown the strength to move the pile. He has good vision and amazing acceleration. He hits the hole very quickly and keeps his legs churning well through arm tackles.
He looked good on short yardage a few times last season and terrible on others. He is an excellent option out of the backfield for short routes. Oakland even used him down the field rather often.
Darren will probably be Al's pick to get most of the carries next season. He wasn't picked fourth overall to back up anyone. If he looks like he did last year against Kansas City no one will complain.
Justin Fargas is an Oakland Raider to the core. He looks like a Raider, acts like a Raider, and is beloved by the fans. He gets more out his motor than anyone his size. He never stops. If some more talented backs in the league had his drive they would be MVP candidates each year.
He is fearless and throws his 205 pounds at tacklers like a pin ball. Fargas is listed at 220, but isn't close to that weight soaking wet.
Justin Fargas is not great out of the backfield, but is a solid pass blocker. He has the speed to break the big one but we haven't seen one yet. If he starts breaking more long runs, you better believe Al Davis will take notice.
It has been rumored that Fargas is on the trading block. I hope to everything that is sacred, Fargas is in Oakland this season and seasons to come. His energy is contagious and this team needs to have him.
I believe he will carry the ball 100 times this year and hopefully more. If the young guys are slow to develop at protecting JaMarcus Russell look for that number to double.
Michael Bush started strong last season against Kansas City and finished with one of the great performances in Raider history against Tampa Bay in the final game of the season. With Tampa's playoff hopes on the line, Bush torched them for over 180 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns.
He ran over their linebackers and ran past their secondary. Watch the video of him running away from Ronde Barber.
At about 250 pounds, Bush is exactly what every team is looking for—a back who can wear down the defense. Despite his size, he has the rare ability to beat defenses with speed and agility. Bush should get the goal-line carries, and hopefully a lot.
I think Bush will be the odd man out in Oakland this year, but I hope he gets over half the carries. Yes, I believe Bush is the difference maker for this offense. I would love to see Bush get 800-1000 yards rushing primarily in the first two or three quarters of games.
From there, we should see McFadden and Fargas pick up huge chunks of yards against battered defensive fronts.
The Raiders schedule is tough and everything always looks much better on paper, but there is reason for optimism this season in Oakland.
Regardless of how they are used, all three must stay in the Silver & Black.
Hopefully Al Davis will agree.