Raiders scrambling to find a healthy "back"

Running back LaMont Jordan did not practice Wednesday because of a sore back. His backup, Justin Fargas, is nursing a sore shoulder that had him in a sling for the second half of Sunday's loss to Denver. If the Raiders' weren't concerned about their running game before, they certainly should be now.

Jordan, who missed the final two games of 2005 with a turf toe injury, has started all five of Oakland's games this season and is 12th in the AFC with 314 yards. Jordan is averaging 3.9 yards a carry but has had trouble each of the last two games, allowing a failed lateral to be recovered and returned for a touchdown while fumbling away a drive deep in Denver territory late in the fourth quarter.

According to head coach Art Shell, Jordan first began experiencing pain Tuesday night when his back tightened up. With Fargas already a question mark, the Raiders decided to hold Jordan out of workouts Wednesday as a precaution.

''No work for him today,'' Shell said. ''Hopefully that'll loosen up and he'll be able to go (Thursday).''

Without Jordan and with Fargas limited, the Raiders turned to fullback Zack Crockett to handle the lead running back duties in practice Wednesday. Crockett, Oakland's short-yardage savior for much of his time with the team, filled in as a starter for the two games when Jordan went down in 2005 and rushed for 88 of his 208 yards.

If Crockett were pressed into action, the Raiders would use Rashard Lee at fullback. Lee has been taking snaps at tailback both in training camp and in practices but because Oakland waived John Paul Foschi recently to make room on special teams for linebacker Ricky Brown, the team has no other fullbacks.

Shell also mentioned running back Joe Echamandu, currently on the Raiders' practice squad, as a possibility. To activate Echamandum Oakland would have to release someone from its 53-man roster.

''We're looking at different avenues in case we feel we need to make a move to do something, we can do that,'' Shell said. ''We have (Echamandu) and he's done a great job of running scout team for us and he took a couple of reps on offense.''

Quarterback Aaron Brooks, out since the second game of the season with a strained pectoral muscle in his right (throwing) shoulder, is making progress but still unlikely to be ready to play against Arizona.


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