Oakland Raiders Running Backs: Split the Carries, Carry the Weight

Paula LehmanCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys during the preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 13, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Darren McFadden and Michael Bush have split carries pretty even-handedly in the opening games of this season. In Sunday's game against the Chiefs, both had 35 yards rushing—McFadden on 12 carries and Bush on nine.

The running game was especially significant in a game where JaMarcus Russell made a mere seven completions on 24 attempts—let's try to forget for a moment the 10 consecutive misses before the closing drive.

But the numbers between the dynamic duo will have to improve in the upcoming game against a Denver defense that held Cleveland to just 54 rushing yards last Sunday in their 27-6 victory over the Browns.

If the Raiders are going to have to rely on their running game while Russell works on his accuracy, McFadden and Bush will have to significantly bump up their stats.

And there's a great possibility that they will. Although it was short yardage, McFadden's final leap into the endzone on a five-yard carry was clutch and it came at the very end of the game when Oakland needed it the most.

In fact, that final drive was the real—and quite possibly the ONLY—reason the Raiders were able to squeak out a win against Kansas City. Russell finally connected with his receivers and his running backs found the right seams thanks to a resilient offensive line.

But the rhythm will need to start from the second Oakland takes the field Sunday. Head coach Tom Cable should continue to split these guys evenly down the middle as they seem to match each other's performance. But one of the two needs to push harder, stretch longer, and gain some serious yardage to encourage the other to do the same.


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