In three preseason games, Oakland Raiders starting running back Latavius Murray has received just 12 carries. In the third game, generally considered a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season, he was given just two. And it’s not like he’s been heavily involved in the passing game, either. He has only three preseason catches as well.

Based on all that, one might think that he’s not actually the Raiders’ starter. Not so fast. Coach Jack Del Rio has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why Murray hasn’t touched the ball all that much just yet:

“We saw him last year,” Del Rio said, per the Raiders’ official web site. “We have a body of work under Latavius. For us the bigger question coming in was to find out who would be able to be the backup back for us. Obviously, we didn’t feed him tonight. We gave him two carries and that was it for the night. So, no. I think for us, we wanted to make sure we gave the two young guys an opportunity to run with the first group and give them that exposure in this third game.”

latavius-murray.jpgDon’t read too much into the Latavius Murray’s lack of preseason carries. USATSI

The candidates for that gig, based on Oakland’s preseason touch distribution, appear to be rookie DeAndre Washington (21 carries, 106 yards; 5 catches, 29 yards) and George Atkinson III (12 carries, 135 yards, 2 TD; 4 catches, 55 yards). Washington has gotten more work, and been more consistent on a touch-to-touch basis, while Atkinson has not had quite as many touches but has broken a few big plays to bring his per-touch numbers up beyond what Washington has done.

Still, it appears Murray is in line for the bulk of the touches out of the Oakland backfield, at least if you believe Del Rio that he’s not worried about the third-year man’s relatively quiet (by design) preseason.

Source: CBS Sports / Jack Del Rio explains lack of preseason touches for Latavius Murray