Jordan ready to take the next step

Signed as a free agent, LaMont Jordan was expected to bring big things to the Oakland Raiders' offense. His first year as a featured back produced over 1,500 yards of total offense – a success in numbers - but there are areas for improvement.

The bruising back gained 1,025 yards on the ground, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. At a time when 1,200 yards is considered good, Jordan struggled to find running room behind an offense line that didn't generate much push. In that respect, Jordan's season had to be considered a success.

He also caught 70 passes out of the backfield, proving to be an excellent option as an outlet receiver. But in truth, when you are throwing to the back that much and have weapons such as Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, something is amiss. You simply can't throw that often to your back in the NFL and it was a direct reflection on an offensive line that failed to give their quarterback time in the pocket.

His job and ability to gain yardage is closely tied to the offensive line. He has the ability to barrel through defenders but is at his best when not faced with direct hits. Give him an inch and he can take a mile. That said, Jordan remains a focal point of an offense that sorely wants to reestablish dominance on the line and in the running game.

With nine touchdowns under his belt as a rusher, Jordan is looking for bigger and better things. In his first season as a featured back, he did not show that he could make his own running room. He has just four runs that exceeded 20 yards on the year. What he can do is take a pounding and often dishes out more punishment than he takes.

"I was so concerned with trying to make the big run that I didn't nitpick to get the three or four yards," Jordan admitted. "That's something I have to work on."

It is, therefore, no surprise to learn that the Raiders were 4-2 when he carried the ball 20 times or more, pummeling the opposition into submission in the fourth quarter.

The Oakland offense, however, ended the year 29th in rushing offense.

Jordan came into the off-season program in better shape than he had the previous year with an eye on breaking more long gains by improving upon his flexibility. While he is a load that should excel in short yardage , he expects to also improve upon his nine touchdowns from a year ago.

"Hey, I can score from the eight or ten (yards out) too."

With a year under his belt, Jordan is more attuned to what works and doesn't over the long season.


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