Rhodes itching to play

The signing of Dominic Rhodes signaled a two-pronged attack in the Oakland Raiders future. Suspended for four games, Rhodes came back and was ready to make an impact. Instead, he made a whisper.

Watching four games in street clothes was bad enough, but Dominic Rhodes didn't expect to be a spectator while in uniform.

Looking forward to taking his turn with the ball for the NFL's top rushing attack, Rhodes instead awaits his first official carry for the Raiders despite being active for a 28-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

Rhodes got in the game for one play with 8:22 to play in the third quarter and gained five yards, with the play erased on a holding penalty by Robert Gallery.

He never played again.

Instead, LaMont Jordan, who went into the game listed as doubtful with a lower back injury, rushed 18 times for 42 yards and caught six passes for 46 more. Justin Fargas, who had a career-day in Oakland's win in Miami with 22 carries for 179 yards, got two carries for 10 yards against San Diego.

"I just feel like I can help this team win. I don't like being on the sideline," Rhodes said. "That's just how it is. I think I'm pretty good at this game. If I'm sitting on the sideline I'm just not doing what I can do. Period."

Rhodes signed with the Raiders as a free agent weeks after gaining 113 yards for the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. At the time, he figured to share carries with Jordan in a two-back attack similar to the one he was a part in Indianapolis with rookie Joseph Addai.

However, Rhodes lost his first four games of the season after being suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. In the meantime, Jordan broke 100 yards against both Denver and Cleveland and was headed for another big game in Miami when he left with a back injury, with Fargas coming in to finish off the Dolphins.

For a guy who led the NFL in postseason rushing yardage last season, it was tough to be a non-factor.

"I played in a lot of these games where I came from," Rhodes said. "This was quoted as being a big game. This is the spot I like to be in, in a hostile environment in that type of situation. I would just like to be out there to help my teammates. When you're on the sideline you don't feel like you're a part of it.

"I think I bring a different type of excitement because of the way I play the game and my speed. It was hard, but it's over and done with."

Coach Lane Kiffin said he understood Rhodes' frustrations, and said he wouldn't want a player who was happy about not playing. The chance to get Rhodes some carries decreased because the Raiders quickly fell behind 14-0, were in a catch-up mode most of the game and because penalties and mistakes affected down and distance.

He also said the inactivity played a role.

"We don't know exactly what we have with Dom because he hasn't had a chance to show us since the preseason," Kiffin said.


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