This year Arian Foster and his backup Ben Tate, are both on pace for 1000 yard seasons. Tate had the luxury of starting a game, and relieving Foster on a couple of occasions to amass that total. However, he is not the best backup in the game. That distinction would belong to the Oakland Raiders Michael Bush.
The Raiders have one of the best all-around running backs in the league this year with Darren McFadden. “He’s in a tough spot,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of Bush. “He plays behind one of the best running backs in the league, but Bush is a really, really good player himself.” McFadden has missed games in every year of his career so far, and this year is no different. McFadden will be sitting out this week with a mid-foot sprain he suffered in the last game before the bye week against Kansas City. Bush came on in relief in that game and got 99 yards on 17 carries.
Some might point to DeMarco Murray piling up the yards and establishing a new Dallas Cowboy team record. Others will show how Ben Tate is leading the league in rush yards for a non-starter. While preparing for this week’s game against the Broncos in the O.Co, Bush was heard saying “It’s not the first time I’ve been down this road. It’s bad that Darren got hurt, and I wish he was out there playing with us, but the coach believes in me and I’ve just got to keep this offense rolling.”
The latest report says that McFadden is out this week, and that Bush will be the starting tailback. They are hoping to get him back for the Thursday game against San Diego next week. History has shown that when called upon, Bush just gets it done and then some. Last season filling in for McFadden against the Chargers Bush ran for 104 yards on 26 carries and the Raiders won. Against Kansas City in the regular season finale Bush again started and finished with 137 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown in yet another Oakland victory.
Five of Bush’s biggest days have come when he’s subbing for, or completing a game that McFadden couldn’t finish. He’s also been the closer for the team when they are running out the clock with a lead. He’s been labeled as the “big back” or the “short yardage guy”, but he and teammates insist he is much more than just that. “Everybody calls him the big back, and we kind of make fun of him, but Mike is a ridiculous playmaker for this team” fullback Marcel Reese said. “He can run between the tackles and he can hit it outside, and everybody has seen that. And if you haven’t, you’re about to see it.”
Michael Bush could be a punishing, and devastating starting running back for several teams in the league, but he’s happy right now doing his job for the team that drafted him in the 4th round a few short years ago. He’s going to be the guy in charge of dominating in the run game this week, against a Broncos team that is ranked 17th in the league in run defense. The Broncos have actually only had two teams go for more than 100 yards against them this year, and week 1 was one of them when McFadden and crew put up 190 yards.
Carson Palmer is making his first start for his new team on Sunday. He more than anyone, is going to need Michael Bush to step up and ease him into the game. When the running game is going well, it should make things much easier for the fresh from the couch Palmer. Joining Bush this week is going to be rookie speedster Taiwan Jones out of Deer Valley High in Antioch, Ca. Last week Jones had four touches and turned those into 48 yards. He should get a few more looks this week as the backup. “Coming in a lot of people didn’t look at me like I could run between the tackles.” Jones said this week. “I like to run outside, but I like to run inside just as much.”