Raiders backfield turns to speed

As the Raiders await word on the condition of LaMont Jordan's back, circumstances could force them to reconvene a meeting of "The Committee."

Jordan sat out a 22-9 win over the Arizona Cardinals and was scheduled for an MRI to see if there was a structural problem with a back that limited him in practice during the week and tightened up during warm-ups on Sunday.

In his absence, the Raiders had 137 yards rushing on 37 carries, averaging 3.7 per attempt, against a defense that often put eight men near the line of scrimmage.

Justin Fargas, playing with a shoulder which had been popped out of its socket only the week before, carried 23 times for 66 yards. Zack Crockett had 44 yards on right attempts and ReShard Lee had 7 yards on 2 tries, including a 1-yard dive for his first career touchdown.

"It's how we do things around here -- backfield by committee," Crockett said. "Everybody contributed. I don't know what it will be like this week but I think they've seen the changeup of different backs is working well."

Actually, it's not how the Raiders have done things since Jordan arrived. He had more than 80 percent of the carries in the 14 games he played last season, signing a lucrative contract to become Oakland's feature runner.

But the fact is, erase Jordan's home games against non-AFC West foes, and he averages 3.1 yards per carry as a Raider. He was a 5-yard per carry runner as the change-up back for Curtis Martin and the Raiders may be wondering if he'll fare better with reduced work -- particularly if his aching back demands it.

It's worth noting that the last time the Raiders led the league in rushing, they used Tyrone Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman, Randy Jordan, Crockett and Terry Kirby as ball carriers. They ran the ball on 52 percent of their snaps, a figure they haven't approached since. It added up to 147 yards per game on the ground.

LaMont Jordan's absence gave the Raiders some diversity in that both Crockett and Lee can play either fullback or tailback, and each man played both against Arizona.

In Jordan's absence, Shell said he was still inclined to have Fargas -- the fastest of Oakland's runners -- come in off the bench.


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