Raiders looking for backup to McFadden

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NAPA, Calif. (AP)

Running backs Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson were surrounded by reporters Saturday, each fielding questions about the other, the Raiders offense and the team's backfield.

Rarely have two backup players garnered this much attention.

Then again, given starter Darren McFadden's history of injuries, finding a capable understudy has taken on added significance for the Raiders (tied 23rd in AP Pro 32).

''We're looking for as many good players as we can find,'' Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. ''Right now we've got a couple options behind him that can do some different things. All of those guys are explosive in space and that's what I really like about all those guys.''

McFadden has been one of the NFL's dynamic running backs over the past two seasons, but he's been unable to stay healthy since entering the league as the fourth overall pick in 2008.

He's missed 19 games because of injuries, including a foot issue that kept him out of the final nine games last season.

Michael Bush, who rushed for 2,642 yards and 21 touchdowns as McFadden's backup the past four years, signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent this past offseason.

That's left Jones, who missed most of his rookie season with a hamstring injury, and Goodson (acquired in a trade from Carolina) as the leading contenders to take over if McFadden gets hurt again.

''I'm not sure what their plan is, but I do know they plan on running the ball and we're going to need at least one to two, maybe three running backs to do that,'' said Jones, a fourth-round pick in 2011.

''When you see McFadden he's obviously got more size than me, he can lower his shoulder more than me. Mike, he's a little more shifty. I feel like I can cut on a dime a little faster than them or change direction, so we've all got something different.''

At 6 feet, 195 pounds, Jones is the smallest of the three backs. He's also the fastest.

''Lightning speed,'' Goodson said of Jones. ''He is fast. You see him run, it's like choo, choo, choo. F..A..S..T.''

Twice on Saturday, Jones broke off long runs against the Raiders starting defense. Each time, he powered his way through the middle of the line before speeding into the open field.

Jones has been showing off that speed throughout camp while trying to learn his second offense in two years.

''In this offense I feel like it's a fit for all of us,'' said Jones, who is also working as a kickoff and punt returner in camp.

''I'm pretty comfortable. I had OTAs for the first time in my career and that definitely helped give me a lot more confidence coming out here.''

Goodson, who is about 15 pounds heavier than Jones, also flashed his speed after taking a handoff from Carson Palmer when he cut around the left end, picked up a big block from fullback Manase Tonga, then raced down the sideline.

Of the three running backs, Goodson might be the most versatile.

He caught 40 passes for the Panthers in 2010 when injuries sidelined DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Goodson also rushed for 452 yards and three touchdowns before resuming his role as a backup last year.

The Raiders acquired Goodson in an offseason trade that sent offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to the Panthers in March.

Since then, Goodson has been trying to work his way into Oakland's backfield rotation.

''I think we're all kind of unique,'' Goodson said. ''I like to catch the ball out of the backfield a lot. Darren, man, he's just an athlete. He can do it all. Everybody brings their own unique thing to the game.''

Notes: WR Eddie McGee aggravated a hamstring injury, joining punter Shane Lechler (knee), linebacker Aaron Curry (knee), cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring) and defensive lineman Travis Ivey (conditioning) on the list of players not practicing. Wide receiver Denarius Moore started practice but was pulled from workouts with a sore hamstring. ... Tight end Richard Gordon has developed a lower leg infection.


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Tagged: Raiders, Panthers, Darren McFadden, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones

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