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Raiders’ Latavius Murray cleared to play

  • Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray, left, runs toward the end zone past Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Allen Bailey to score on a 90-yard touchdown run during the second quarter of an NFL football game in Oakland, Thursday. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

ALAMEDA, Calif. » Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray has been cleared to play this week against San Francisco after missing the previous game with a concussion.

Murray was officially cleared Tuesday morning and was back at practice on Wednesday as the Raiders (1-11) prepare to face the rival 49ers (7-5) on Sunday in Oakland.

Murray gave the Raiders a big spark in their only win of the season, carrying four times for 112 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-20 victory over Kansas City on Nov. 20. Murray left that game with a concussion and had to sit out last week’s 52-0 loss at St. Louis as well before he was deemed healthy again this week.

"I’m ready to show I can handle a workload of carries," Murray said. "It’s no pressure for me at all. I know what I’m capable of. However many carries I get or however many plays I get I just have to go out there and be effective."

Murray has made the most of his limited time. He missed his entire rookie season in 2013 with a foot injury suffered in the preseason and began this year as the third-string running back behind Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden.

He carried the ball just six times the first nine games despite Oakland being on pace to be the worst rushing team in the NFL since 1946. Murray then got four carries for 43 yards against San Diego on Nov. 16 to earn a bigger role the following week against the Chiefs.

Murray scored Oakland’s first touchdown of the game on an 11-yard run and then broke off a 90-yarder that was the longest for an Oakland running back since Bo Jackson went 92 yards back in 1989.

"I know it’s only a couple of carries here, a couple of catches here but you can’t take it away from him," quarterback Derek Carr said. "The guy went out and did it. You have to be excited for him for that. … I will be excited to see what he can do with more touches. Hopefully it’s more 90-yard runs."

Despite the success in limited action, interim coach Tony Sparano has not committed to Murray becoming the feature back despite the lack of production from McFadden and Jones-Drew.

Murray has rushed for 155 yards on eight carries in his past two games. McFadden has the same amount of rushing yards on his past 62 carries and is averaging 3.3 yards a run for the third straight season. Jones-Drew has just 90 yards on 41 carries this year.

"He has eight carries," Sparano said. "I love the way Latavius runs the football. I like what I’ve seen. I’ve seen eight carries. I want to see more of him. I’m curious too. I’m curious just like the fans are curious."

Sparano said he has seen improvement each week by Murray and that if he had practiced as well early in the season as he has of late, he would have been playing more already.

But Sparano said it took some time for Murray to get back into form after sitting out all last season.

"This kid has just come along, come along, come along," Sparano said. "All of a sudden he has gotten his opportunities."

NOTES: Backup TE Brian Leonhardt did not practice after being knocked out of his second straight game with a concussion. The only other tight end on the roster is Mychal Rivera, although FB Marcel Reece and T Matt McCants could get time there. Oakland also could activate TE Scott Simonson from the practice squad. … RT Menelik Watson did not practice with an injured foot and ankle.


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