Jul 5, 2007
In case you missed it over the holiday, Raider RB Dominic Rhodes has been suspended four games for violating the league’s substance program. Rhodes will be able to work out in training camp, but he will miss the team’s first four games.
Information on these suspensions is usually sketchy, but for Rhodes to be suspended the four games means he was already in the league’s substance abuse program, so one more slip-up should result in a one-year suspension for Rhodes. From all accounts, Rhodes suspension stems from his alcohol incident early this year, though I wonder why it took so long for the league to take action.
Obviously, this raises the stock of RB LaMont Jordan. Jordan is nearly 100% recovered now from the knee injury he suffered in the latter stages of the 2006 season, and he will now open the season as THE guy both in the running and the passing game. I imagine the team will keep Justin Fargas around, especially with the Rhodes news, but Jordan can be a do-it-all back in terms of running and catching the ball. Jordan should be plenty motivated now that he’ll get a chance to be the lead back for at least a month because if rookie Michael Bush continues to progress well (Bush is close to being 100% from all account), then Jordan will likely be looking for work very soon. Jordan’s been in the league now for five seasons, but his career workload has been light, so he should still have plenty in the tank.
I don’t have any delusions about the Raider offense excelling this year, but it’ll be a lot better than it was last year simply because it cannot get any worse. People say this all the time about different things, but it’s definitely true in this case. I’m reserving judgement on their young coaching staff, but I’m sure they will do a better job in terms of scheming and designing plays that work. That’s something last year’s regime simply couldn’t do.
The rookie Bush is a major wildcard here, but for now I would be okay drafting Jordan in the middle rounds with the expectation that he’s productive enough for me to plug in as my #3/Flex guy. I think, if he starts off the season well, we won’t see quite the two-headed monster that the coaches expected to see this year with Jordan and Rhodes.
Bush is now an even better late-round flyer. Just keep in mind that as of last week, those close to the team still viewed the possibility Bush is used very sparingly all season as realistic and a strong possibility. Bush is coming back well from his leg injury, but we’ll know more about his status once training camp starts. If he’s able to practice every day, that’s a good sign. If he’s able to practice twice a day, that’s a great sign. Bush has the talent to be an impact player this year, but there are many, many factors that could and probably should slow him down. He has to show he’s healthy and that his leg will hold up. He has to show he’s in “football shape.” Rhodes will eventually be back and he’s a guy the new regime brought in, so they will definitely use him. This could still be a poor team. The coaching staff could prove to be in over its head.
So for now, the guy to look at in Oakland is still Jordan. Bush is looking better and could be looking a lot better in the coming weeks, but it’s still Jordan who benefits the most from the news of Rhodes suspension.