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Raiders RB Latavius Murray healthy, working hard for his second chance

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USA TODAY Sports
There has been a lot of talk about the desire to run the ball for the Oakland Raiders this year. The team has not been shy at all about their intention to pound the rock, and their actions in the off-season are also proof of their intention. They got bigger on the offensive line and they went out in free agency and brought in some competition at the running back position.

They let Rashad Jennings go but they picked up his mentor Maurice Jones-Drew. They then went up north and stole CFL star Kory Sheets in order to give him another shot at the NFL. The Raiders also signed UDFA legacy player George Atkinson III, re-signed Darren McFadden and have Jeremy Stewart on the roster too.  Man, that's a lot of competition! And oh yeah; they also have 2013 6th-round pick Latavius Murray.

As soon as Latavius Murray's name was called on draft day Raiders fans across the world proceeded to hit the internet to see videos on the mostly unknown player that was just drafted. Immediately afterward he became one of those fan favorite players that get pegged with high expectations despite their draft position and before ever even seeing the field for the first time in the Silver and Black.

Murray's golden path predicted by many Raider fanatics unfortunately was blockaded before the trip even began. A seemingly minor injury turned out worse than expected and the promising rookie from Central Florida found himself on Injured Reserve. It was after just a single preseason game where he carried the ball 8 times for 29 yards when his rookie season came to an end.

Eager to prove himself in a crowded backfield, Latavius has been working hard to be ready for his chance this year. He knows that being faced with a situation like he is in with this competition is a chance to prove himself truly worthy of being in the NFL. He is working hard to show that he really understands how important of a chance this is for him.

"I don't want to say this is the hardest I've worked out, because I always work hard, but I definitely think it's a little more focused this offseason with me," he said. "I think it's a little more intense for me, just being out last year and knowing how important it is for me this year to go out there and prove what I can do."

He now needs to work harder than he ever has before to get to where he wants to be which is on this Oakland roster come Week 1 of the regular season. He is facing an uphill battle though and that can be incredibly daunting to a young back. He seems to be handling the pressure with a cool head.

"The only thing I can do is continue to be the back that I have been, and that's just running downhill, getting tough yards in between tackles and, when I can get outside, use my speed that I'm blessed with, and anything else they ask me as far as special teams," 

Latavius' worker attitude is great, and if he can stay healthy he could be the dark horse in this race. He has the physical tools needed to win his roster spot because he has been blessed with impressive speed for his 230lb frame, but he needs to stay off the trainer's table to meet his goals. He does have one thing going for him, he already has a fan in Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.

"We're looking for big things from Latavius Murray right now, coming off the foot injury," Olson said. "He's shown, to me, the biggest upside right now in what we've seen thus far, if he can stay healthy."

With the Raiders training camp opening Wednesday he has his shot to show that he is ready to play against the best. If he can continue to improve and continue to impress the coaches then he might just get the chance to prove his faithful fans correct. He definitely plans on doing everything he can, including utilizing the veterans in front of him on the depth chart for their knowledge.

"I want to get better every day I go out there to practice. In the meeting rooms and on the field, do whatever it is they ask me. I have two great leaders in front of me, two great running backs in front of me to learn from and I just think that if I take it day by day and get better every day and bust my behind on special teams, I think everything will work out the way it's supposed to."

He is planning on showing that the way it's suppose to be is with him sporting the glorious uniform of the Oakland Raiders. He is also hoping a return to his college number of 28 (he wore 34 last year) will help spur his dreams forward. We will see what ends up happening soon enough. Remember though, there are several other players battling to prove that they are really the one that is supposed to be on this team too.