It’s rare to have the Oakland Raiders feeling so optimistic about a number of things heading into a new NFL season. One of those things is running back Latavius Murray, who seems ready to have his breakout season.
Murray rushed for 424 yards on 82 carries last season with two touchdowns. At 6’3 and 230 pounds, he offers a rare combination of size and speed at the position that usually leads to some impressive numbers. Next season, with his touches projected to double (he caught 17 passes as well in 2014), he has the groundwork set for him to have an excellent season.
While the Raiders have competition for him, including the struggling Trent Richardson (who is currently injured) and Roy Helu from the Washington Redskins, Murray is getting all the first team reps and it’s not going to change as we head into the preseason games. It’s his job to lose, but he seems too good and in form to actually give up too many snaps to someone else.
Murray did miss the 2013 rookie season with an injury, and some feel that he was holding back for most of last season in practice. But with the Raiders doing so badly with Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew struggling to pick up yards, Murray got some chances to start and spend more time on the field late in the season, showing his coaches (who have changed in the meanwhile) that he’s the best running back on this team.
Murray seems primed for a 1000-yard season and be the offensive go-to-guy on a team that’s trying to climb out of the AFC West basement after so many years of underachieving. There will be plenty of attention directed at Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, but Murray could be the one most worth watching next season on a team that’s starving for a breakout star.