Is handwriting on wall for Jordan?

Even with Dominic Rhodes having to sit out the first four games of the season after another violation of the league's substance abuse policy, running back LaMont Jordan can't feel too comfortable with his future with the Raiders after just two seasons.

Already at odds with the front office after being forced to take a pay-cut in the offseason, Jordan didn't get off to the greatest of starts with running backs coach Tom Rathman, either.

Rathman, a star fullback for the San Francisco 49ers championship teams of the 1990s who also spent time with the Raiders, was always highly regarded for his work ethic and approach. He was one of head coach Lane Kiffin's first hires, as well, and now we know why. According to insiders, Rathman walked into the locker room prior one of the team's offseason workouts and found Jordan among the few players remaining.

Rathman approached Jordan and questioned why he wasn't on the field. Jordan cited equipment problems, but Rathman was unconvinced and grabbed Jordan by the jersey and walked him out to practice.

For the next several days, insiders said, Rathman was at Jordan's locker 15 minutes prior to practice and didn't leave until Jordan was ready.

Jordan, who signed a five-year, $27.5 million deal with the Raiders in 2005, might be regretting the day he left New York. A back-up to future Hall-of-Famer Curtis Martin before signing with Oakland, Jordan likely would have been a starter with the Jets by now had he stayed in the Big Apple.

Instead, he heads into training camp forced to share reps with Rhodes, rookie Michael Bush and last year's leading rusher, Justin Fargas. His unhappiness was evident in the offseason when he spoke with reporters.

One of Jordan's greatest assets is his candor, both of himself and his team. But he was unusually forthcoming, particularly when talking about the team's decision to slash his pay. The move slashed what was to be a $4.5 million bonus, though in final numbers it saved the Raiders only $1.75 million worth of cap space.

"Make no mistake about it, I'm not happy about (it). I'm not happy about it at all," Jordan said. "But at this point there's nothing I could do about it. Had I left, I would have felt like I would have failed here. I'm not happy that I was put in that position but it was something that was done, it's over with and I'm ready to get on with it."

Jordan's future was already in question after the Raiders signed Rhodes and drafted Bush. Bush, in fact, could be the wildcard that might even push Jordan out of the door this year. He was projected to be a top-15 pick before breaking his leg early in his final season at Kentucky last year, Bush insists he'll be ready to go by the time camp begins.

If that's true and if he's able to get back to the form he had with the Wildcats, it wouldn't come as a surprise to see Oakland give Jordan his walking papers. Rhodes is due back in Week 5 and Fargas has already proved to be a decent starter. A Fargas-Bush combo wouldn't exactly make opposing defensive coordinators lose sleep, but it would be serviceable until Rhodes returns.

One of the quartet is going to have to go regardless. There's no way, given the state of the offense in general, the Raiders can keep all four.

For salary cap purposes alone, it wouldn't make sense.

Jordan seems to have already thought this over.

"My approach this year is completely different than it was last year," Jordan said when asked about the new-found enthusiasm in the Lane Kiffin era. "I'm not going to get excited about anything. Last year we looked pretty good in mini-camp and things like that, but you saw what happened during the course of the season. For me, I'm not really concerned with how we look as a team. I'm going to worry more about myself as an individual."


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