Bye dilemma: Getting Reece more involved

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
7:33
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- While the Raiders players are off for an NFL-mandated four days during the team’s bye, Oakland’s coaching staff is working until the weekend.

Fans of Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece, and maybe even Reece himself, are hoping the offensive coaches are using the extra time figuring out ways to get the ball into Reece’s hands more in the season’s final 10 games.

As a hybrid, the former college wide receiver has also played tailback for the Raiders, and good things seem to happen when Reece has the ball. Thing is, he only had one touch in the Raiders’ 24-7 loss at Kansas City on Sunday, a 9-yard catch and run.

[+] EnlargeMarcel Reece
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsThe Raiders' Marcel Reece recorded a TD reception in Denver earlier this season.
And yes, everyone on the organizational totem pole from general manager Reggie McKenzie to coach Dennis Allen to offensive coordinator Greg Olson recognizes this.

So what gives?

“Again, unless you’re handing [Reece] the football, which we have to monitor what we’re doing because we have to make sure that Darren McFadden is getting enough touches, and with Marcel it’s changed a little bit this year because of the quarterback position,” Olson said. “We’ve become more of a read-option kind of an offense. A lot of times in the passing game, he may be involved, or may be in the progression [of reads], but if he’s not catching it in the passing game, the best chance of getting him the football is to hand the ball off.

“Every game or every week when we finish a game, we go back through a stat sheet and look at how many times the guys were targeted and how many times they actually touched the ball. We’re aware of that with Marcel. We’re constantly aware of it throughout the game.”

Keep in mind, Reece is still dealing with the effects of a sprained knee suffered in the Raiders’ loss to Washington on Sept. 29. So Oakland is wary of riding him too hard, too soon.

But thus far, he has carried the ball nine times for 47 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown run against Jacksonville. Reece also has caught 10 passes for 86 yards with a 16-yard TD from McFadden against Denver. He has been targeted 16 times as a receiver.

“I’ll do whatever is needed,” Reece said earlier this season, “whenever my number is called."

“When you want to be a Raider, you show it out on the field, just show it in everything you do,” he added in the wake of signing a three-year contract extension that will pay him $12.4 million through 2016. “If you show that, what else can you do?”

Then there’s his main duty as a fullback in a traditional offense -- blocking. Not only for McFadden, but for quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

“We’ll call some things up in the passing game,” Olson said. “He’s No. 1 in progression and for some reason or another, we don’t get the ball to him. We’ll keep continuing to put him in the position to be at that No. 1 in the progression.

“But the only way you can really and truly ensure it, is to hand him the ball.”

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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