It wasn’t long ago that former sixth round pick Latavius Murray was the up-and-coming young buck in the Raiders’ backfield. He was the one buried on the depth chart, breathing down the necks of the veterans ahead of him, itching to prove himself.
Now Murray finds himself on the other side of that, before ever even taking the practice field in Minnesota.
The man they call ‘Tay Train’ left Oakland as a free agent this offseason, signing with the Vikings to replace Adrian Peterson as the team’s workhorse. All along the Raiders were planning to let him test free agency.
As a rookie in 2013 Murray was shelved with ankle issues. He finally burst onto the scene late in his second season in the Raiders’ 11th game in Kansas City. His coming out party featured two big touchdown runs that led the Raiders to their first win of the season after going 0-10 and breaking a 16-game losing streak that started in 2013.
In order to do it, Murray needed to climb the depth chart over newly signed Maurice Jones-Drew and veteran Darren McFadden. With both DMC and MJD struggling, Tay’s emergence was a long time coming.
Two seasons as the feature back for the Raiders, now he is the veteran looking over his shoulder in Minnesota.
Immediately after signing with the Vikings, Murray had ankle surgery. A little over a month later, the Vikings used their second round pick on Florida State dynamo, Dalvin Cook.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Murray said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football of the Vikings drafting Cook. “When you see a guy with first round potential sitting there in the second round, they snatch him up, you can’t be surprised. It motivates me regardless because they’re always going to bring in somebody to take over your position.
“MJD and Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece, those guys did everything they could to try and help me be a better player. I’m gonna do the same for Dalvin. But again, it’s going to come down to who’s the best player that’s gonna play. Because I give Dalvin knowledge and try to help him doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go out there and outperform him and out compete.”
While Murray is watching from the sideline, Cook has been given plenty of chances to prove to his new coaches why he deserves to be the feature back. The frustration of this was apparent from Murray.
“Here I am already behind in a sense,” said Murray. “Going into a new offense, new situation, but I’m injured. Coming off an injury. Dalvin’s already been through the OTA’s, he’s already been through the offseason, so he has that up on me.
“But also I’m looking at it as hey I’m the vet, I have time in this league, I’ve done some good things in this league, so I have a lot to bring to the table.
“You’re looking at it from his [perspective] is this older vet is coming off this injury, it’s time for him to step aside. I want this and I should be the guy.
“I’m looking at it from my perspective like, look, this is my time. This is my time. This is my new opportunity and this is what I want. And so when it comes game one, I need to be back there in the ‘I’ lining up.”
The first game of the season the Vikings will face the Saints with Murray watching his predecessor and Adrian Peterson watching his replacement. For that moment, Latavius is confident he will be the guy.
“I’m on the field,” Murray said of the first snap. “I’m getting the ball. First and ten.”