Running Game Struggling

The offseason acquisition of free agent running back LaMont Jordan was supposed to help revive the Raiders' running game. But through two weeks, Oakland has run the ball fewer times than it did at the same time in 2004.

Heading into Sunday's game in Philadelphia the Raiders owned the NFL's 23rd-ranked running attack, averaging 81.5 yards a game. That's only slightly better than the 80.9-yards per game average for all of last year when Oakland finished with the league's worst-ranked running game.

Things could change this week against the Eagles. Philadelphia owns the No. 3 defense in the NFL but is only 27th against the run.

That's what Oakland did in 2001 when it ran the ball on 47 of 74 plays from scrimmage, racked up 158 yards on the ground and controlled the clock for more than 40 minutes in a 20-10 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia.

While most of the players from that team are gone, including running back Charlie Garner and quarterback Rich Gannon, the win in 2001 provided a perfect blueprint for this year's Oakland team to follow.

''It's real important to do that,'' said left tackle Barry Sims, one of the few holdovers from the 2001 team. ''That was definitely a way to do it. If you look at Atlanta, they were able to run the ball and were able to come out with a victory. So it definitely is a key to it. You can't just step back and throw the ball 40 times and expect to come out of there with a win. We're going to have to be able to run the ball, mix it up.''

The Raiders haven't shown much of a commitment to the ground game in their two losses this season. Of their 118 plays, only 37 have been designed running plays.

A year ago through two games, Oakland actually was running the ball more than it is now. The Raiders had 44 called running plays in 2004 when they split their first two games.

About the only positive change for Oakland this year has been in its 4.0 yards-per-carry average, up from 2.8 in 2004.

Jordan, the prized free agent pickup, has carried just 33 times for 129 yards. He scored his first touchdown of the season during the 23-17 loss to Kansas City last Sunday and had a second touchdown -- a 56-yarder -- called back because of a holding penalty.

''If you can run the ball against anyone, that's a positive,'' Raiders coach Norv Turner said. ''(The Eagles) do a good job of giving you a lot of different looks and make it hard to get consistency with the run, but I think the teams that have played the best against them have been able to get the run going.''

NOTES

* Running back Justin Fargas could see his first playing time of the season Sunday in Philadelphia. Turner said that Fargas, out with a knee injury, has been practicing this week with no problems and could be on the field against the Eagles. If he does play, Fargas will share time with Zack Crockett as the backup to starting running back LaMont Jordan. Crockett will also take the majority of reps at fullback due to an injury to John Paul Foschi.

* Wide receiver Doug Gabriel has been cleared to play and will be in the lineup against Philadelphia.

* Quarterback Kerry Collins had his right hand in a bag of ice before practice but Turner said he didn't expect any lingering effects. Collins originally injured his hand against New England when he hit it against the helmet of another player on the field. ''(The ice) is just because of soreness,'' Turner said, ''but he's all right.''


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