Syracuse native and Oakland Raiders starting running back Latavius Murray finds himself in a very crucial role heading into the 2016 NFL Season. With an explosive offense that features Amari Cooper, Derek Carr, and Michael Crabtree, Murray will be called upon to handle a majority of the carries. This is a role Murray has been preparing for since the Raiders drafted the running back out of the University of Central Florida in the 6th round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
However, the road hasn’t been easy. He saw his rookie season end in August 2013 due to a leg injury. That season he learned the Raiders offense under fellow running back mentors Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Despite finally being healthy for the 2014 season, Murray found himself 3rd on the depth chart. After fellow backs McFadden & Jones-Drew failed to produce, the Raiders turned to Murray in Week 12 against the Kansas City Chiefs. In a key AFC West matchup Murray exploded with 4 carries for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a 90 yard rush. His productive day came to a halt when he was taken out of the game after his 4th carry due to a concussion.
Entering the 2015 season, Murray was named the starting running back due to the departure of McFadden and the retirement of Jones-Drew. He saw his biggest game occur during Week 3 vs the Cleveland Browns in which he rushed for a career high 139 yards on 26 carries and finished with a TD. On December 24, 2015, Murray became the 1st Raiders running back to rush for 1000 yards since his former teammate Darren Mcfadden did it in 2010. However, Murray suffered another concussion during week 9 after a vicious hit by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell. This injury sidelined Murray for quite some time but he was still named to the Pro Bowl.
If Latavius Murray can finally stay healthy for the entire 2016 NFL Season, the Oakland Raiders are in great shape to compete for a playoff spot and return to greatness. He appears to see a majority of the team’s carries among fellow backs Taiwan Jones and Roy Helu. Could be another Pro Bowl season for Murray!