Fargas Runs Into Featured Role

With LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes on the roster, the Raiders thought they had a pair of solid backs in place this season. But as the team has struggled, the surprising Justin Fargas has taken over the workload from both backs.

LaMont Jordan sat in his chair as if frozen, which was fitting considering the 18-degree temperature at Lambeau Field as well as the cold, hard reality of his inability to gain ground.

He wasn't speaking to the media, and hasn't for a few weeks now, as the reality of being deposed as the Oakland Raiders' lead back has set in.

Yet an opportunity presented itself when starter Justin Fargas went out of the game with bruised ribs against the Packers. Fargas had gained 57 yards on 15 carries. It wasn't that there weren't gains to be had as much as the Raiders were having difficulty in the second half keeping the game close enough to run the ball.

But once the Packers went up 24-7 in the third quarter and it was apparent the Raiders could not win, coach Lane Kiffin, with system breakdowns in all areas, went ahead and called some runs anyway.

Jordan, despite going against a Green Bay defense that had to be expecting pass, gained only 21 yards on 11 carries. He didn't do much better with his four receptions — catching four passes for 17 yards.

His final tally — 15 touches, 38 yards.

It was the most work Jordan had received since Oct. 15, when he had 11 rushes for 29 yards and four catches for 40 yards.

Dominic Rhodes
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

After four weeks, Jordan was among the NFL rushing leaders with 424 yards on 84 carries, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He went out just before halftime with a back injury against the Miami Dolphins, and hasn't been the same since.

Since that game, Jordan has 125 yards on 60 carries in nine games — two of which he was inactive for when he wasn't listed as injured.

Meanwhile, Fargas has 920 yards rushing and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Jordan did have one 26-yard reception called back by penalty, and Kiffin liked what he saw from one seven-yard gain.

"There wasn't a lot of room for LaMont to run when he got in there," Kiffin said. "He had one run that he finally had a little bit of room and kind of put his shoulder down on the corner. We'll continue to look at it. Fargas, if he's healthy, is still our starting tailback."

Jordan, who accepted a $1.75 million reduction in his roster bonus to remain with the Raiders rather than decline and become a free agent, is a candidate for release at season's end. So is Dominic Rhodes, the free agent acquisition who led the NFL in postseason rushing yards last season has 12 carries for 24 yards and has been inactive for the past two games.

"Strange year," said Rhodes, who is choosing his words carefully these days.

Jordan, if he was talking, would probably concur.

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