In a move that came as no real surprise, Raiders head coach Tom Cable named Michael Bush the starting running back for Sunday's game against the New York Giants. Bush, who had been splitting time in the backfield with Darren McFadden before McFadden tore the meniscus in his knee.
McFadden underwent surgery on Tuesday and is expected to be out 2-4 weeks.
Oakland signed running back Gary Russell earlier in the week and will have Justin Fargas sharing time in the backfield with Bush when the Raiders play the Giants. But it is Bush who will technically start, though Cable downplayed the significance of it.
"That's not a really big deal in terms of how it all goes down," Cable said. "That's just the way we're at right now."
What is a big deal, though, is the possibility that the Raiders may have to use Bush at fullback, too.
Oren O'Neal was held out of practice for a second straight day due to lingering ankle pain and is listed as doubtful to play against the Giants. That leaves the Raiders with only one other fullback on the roster – Luke Lawton.
Lawton hasn't been anything special during his time in Oakland, so the Raiders may be tempted to line up one of their tight ends in the backfield. Cable also left open the possibility that Bush could be used at fullback, something he resisted doing last season when Oakland had similar injury issues at the position.
"We've always had Bush (as a possibility)," Cable said. "Bush has always kind of been part of that, if you need an emergency fullback."
Bush didn't come into the Raiders locker room during the 45-minute media access period but playing fullback is something he's never been comfortable with. While he never refused to do it, the former fourth-round draft pick has always been outspoken about his desires to stay at running back.
Given McFadden's injury, it would make sense to keep Bush as the go-to back on offense instead of lining him up at fullback. He's the most powerful runner the Raiders have and has good enough breakaway speed.
With the Giants coming in ranked 19th against the run, the opportunity is there for Oakland to take advantage behind Bush. His grinding style would be perfect to wear down New York's defensive line and seems ideal for moving the chains it what is expected to be a rain-filled game.
Playing him at fullback for a few snaps isn't going to hurt anything but the Raiders would be foolish to do it for more than that. At this point, he's the best back on the team and he needs to be carrying the football, not blocking.
Bush to start at running back against Giants
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