"It's weird. I can go in the huddle with the ones," Jordan said as the Oakland Raiders completed their three-day minicamp Sunday. "You get in the huddle and you look around to see if somebody is coming in to get you. In my mind, I'm the guy. It's not something that I'm used to but it's something I've prepared for four years."
While the trade for Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss grabbed many headlines, Jordan is being counted on hugely to add balance to an offense that could potentially be the best the Raiders had since going to the Super Bowl in 2002. No more than one day after the trade for Moss became official; the Raiders inked Jordan as a free agent from the New York Jets for five years for $27.5 million dollars according to ESPN.com.
Oakland's running was horrible, to put kindly, in 2004 on the way to ranking dead last in averaging 80.4 yards per game. The Raiders have upgraded their offensive line through last season's draft that netted tackle Robert Gallery in the first round and center Jake Grove in the second. Oakland, however, could not find that reliable running back.
"I've heard people say, ‘You're the savior to the running game,'" Jordan said. "There's a big responsibility on my shoulders because of the money the Raiders have paid. There are a lot of expectations and people are waiting for me to do big things but nobody can put more pressure on me than I've put on myself."
For a running game to be successful, any team needs a back that it can consistently count on for 15 or so carries per game. Whether or not Jordan is that player, however, remains to be seen. Jordan showed promise in his four seasons as a backup to probable Hall-of-Famer Curtis Martin. Jordan carried 93 times for 479 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns last season. Despite the uncertainty others have of him being a full-timer, Jordan welcomes the long-awaited chance.
"I like to believe it doesn't matter which offense I'm in, I can adapt," Jordan said. "I can run the ball between the tackles. I have enough speed to go the distance and I have great pride in catching the ball. It's just a matter of learning the terminology. That's going to be the biggest adjustment, learning the verbiage."
Jordan, however, is not totally starting over because current Raiders offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye served in the same capacity with the Jets for two seasons. Plus, Jordan saw head coach Norv Turner run the same offense from afar in his two seasons as an offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins, whom the Jets play twice per season.
"I expect him to be an outstanding back," Turner said of Jordan. "He's been very impressive. He makes very good decisions. He's got good vision."
"He told me he's ready to run," Moss said. "I like that ‘bash' back."
"I did a lot of play action in New York," Jordan said. "The West Coast offense is definitely different from this offense. I've done it all as far as play action, pass protection, running the ball. This is a different system. It's a matter of understanding what it is that they're actually saying."
While Moss and Porter openly have voiced displeasure in the past about not getting the ball thrown to them enough, Jordan added not to expect anything similar from him.
"I'm not one of these guys who's going to complain about not getting the ball," Jordan said. "If we're throwing the ball and Randy is just blowing by people and JP is working whoever is checking him, it doesn't matter. I'm all about winning. If my presence on play action is opening things up down the field, that's cool with me. The only time I've ever complained about not getting the ball was in New York – but we were also losing games. I'm here for one thing only and that's to win."
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org