Oakland Raiders: Notes And Observations From The Preseason

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Aug 22, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Michael Dyer (40) runs with the ball in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Oakland Raiders 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland’s Ground Game Is Good – Needs To Get Better

Oakland’s ground game last season was so abysmally bad that it sets the bar for an improved running game pretty low straight out of the gate. But there is no doubt that Oakland’s 2015 running game will be head and shoulders above last season’s version. With Latavius Murray leading the way, the Raiders will have a legit rushing attack.

That being said, there is still a long way to go and this running backs group needs to get a lot better very fast.

After opening the exhibition season with two straight games where they cracked the century mark – a feat they hadn’t accomplished in seemingly forever – the Raiders hit a major speedbump against the Arizona Cardinals.

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The Cardinals defense was suffocating and was meeting the ballcarrier in the backfield on seemingly every play. For the game, the Raiders put up a very 2014-esque 37 yards on the ground. Even Murray, as quick and powerful as he’s been, was limited to a single yard on seven carries.

Michael Dyer, who has been something of a revelation through training camp and the exhibition season for the Raiders, rushed twice for a negative yard and a half. The now cut and unemployed Trent Richardson had the most productive night of any Raiders running back, notching 19 yards on five carries.

That being said, the Raiders have a very solid running backs group with Murray leading the charge. Dyer will presumably make the final roster as Oakland’s primary backup. They also have Roy Helu, Taiwan Jones, and Marcel Reece in the fold – it’s a diverse group with diverse skill sets, and combined, they will be a boon to a team that desperately needs to establish a solid ground attack.

Much of the running game’s success will be predicated on the play of the offensive line – a line that suffered a big blow with tackle Menelik Watson being lost for the season with an Achille’s injury. Austin Howard will step into his spot and can hopefully provide the solid presence that Watson had been providing.

Oakland’s running game will be better in 2015 than it was last year. Again, that’s a low bar to clear, but given what we’ve seen throughout the preseason, Oakland is going to have a very viable running game with knockout potential.

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