Taking Stock of the Raiders Running Backs

After struggling to get rolling last season, there is a renewed sense of hope for the Raiders ground attack in 2015.

As the 2014 season came to a close, the Raiders found themselves ranked last in the NFL in total rushing yards (1,240) and yards per game (77.5), but a youthful core of young rushers spearheaded by Latavius Murray hope to change that going forward.

We now take a closer look at the running back position headed into 2015 under new running backs coach Bernie Parmalee.

DMC Heads to Dallas

After a seven-year run, the Raiders and RB Darren McFadden parted ways this offseason, with the veteran running back joining the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent.

McFadden led the team with 534 yards on the ground in 2014 and caps his career in Silver and Black at number six on the Career Rushing Leaders list with 4,247 yards. He also ranks 14th on the Career Receiving Leaders list with 1,769 receiving yards as a Raider.

McFadden's departure from the Raiders backfield signals a shift to the youth movement in Oakland, with the other running backs on the roster averaging just over 24 years of age.

The Incumbent

In 2014, Latavius Murray ranked second on the team with 424 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with his breakout performance coming during a primetime match-up against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.

As the rain came down at O.co Coliseum, the second-year running back put on quite the show for a national audience, as he ran for 112 yards on just four carries before leaving the game due to injury.

With his effort, Murray became the first player in NFL history to gain at least 110 rushing yards on five-or-fewer carries. After he returned from injury, the Central Florida product earned the bulk of the carries and averaged 64.5 yards per game over the last month of the season.

Murray hopes that he will be able to carry the positive momentum from 2014 into the 2015 season, and show head coach Jack Del Rio that he deserves to be the feature back going forward.

"I think he's shown that there's potential there and we're excited about working with him and developing him to his fullest, and having him compete and whoever ends up being the best guy, we'll let the best guy play," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said earlier this offseason. "He's done enough things that peak your interest."

The New Guys

In addition to Murray, the Raiders were active on the free-agent market, signing running backs Roy Helu, Jr. and Trent Richardson.

Helu, Jr., who grew up in nearby Danville, Calif., spent the past four seasons with the Washington Redskins, and appeared in 48 games, rushing for 1,132 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition to his ability running the ball, the former Nebraska Husker is a legitimate receiving threat as well, hauling in 129 receptions and three touchdowns in his career.

The Raiders also signed former first round draft pick Trent Richardson.

Richardson spent time with both the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns during his short NFL career, but is hoping that he has found a permanent home in Oakland.

Check out who's currently on the roster for the Oakland Raiders.

"We went over the offense and saw a lot of stuff that I saw in college," said Richardson when asked about his free agent visit to the Raiders practice facility. "I know this playbook already, especially when it comes to the run. I know what they expect and how they're going to spread the field, putting me in a position to be successful. With that, in talking to [Head] Coach [Jack Del Rio], he just said there is just a lot of opportunity out here."

George Atkinson III also enters his second season in Silver and Black after spending a majority of 2014 on the practice squad. The Notre Dame product was called up to the active roster prior to the team's Week 13 match-up against the St. Louis Rams and used primarily as kick returner for the remainder of the season.

He returned seven kicks for 134 yards (19.1 Avg.) with a long of 28 yards in Week 17 against the Denver Broncos.

As of April 16, the Raiders have the following running backs on the roster: Atkinson III, former Jacksonville Jaguar Terrance Cobb, Helu, Jr., Murray and Trent Richardson.

*While Marcel Reece is technically listed as a fullback on the roster, he has also spent time playing halfback, rushing the ball 21 times for 85 yards in 2014.

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