- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Don't talk to Rashad Jennings about opportunities, real or imagined. Not with Darren McFadden's right hamstring yanking on him again, setting the stage for Jennings to get the lion's share of carries at running back for the Oakland Raiders this weekend against the New York Giants.
The way Jennings sees it, he's supposed to be ready to be a frontline starter, regardless of McFadden's injury history.
“You prepare to start every single week,” he insisted Wednesday. “There aren't any backups in the league; those are the guys that are at home watching on TV.
“When opportunity presents itself, it's too late to prepare for it. So, every day, be prepared to be that guy.”
In the Raiders' 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and with McFadden leaving the game early in the second quarter, Jennings carried the ball 15 times for 102 yards, the third 100-yard rushing game of his career and his first since Jan. 2, 2011.
Now, Jennings may not be the home run threat that McFadden is, but Jennings is on the field, and against the Eagles, he averaged 3.73 yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus.
“It's tough,” quarterback Terrelle Pryor said of the possibility of not having McFadden. “You guys have been writing about Darren for a long time and you guys know how explosive he is, when he hits a hole and only sees green and beats the remaining defender, so it's tough, but this past game we saw Rashad make a lot of guys miss and run over a lot of guys. We're definitely going to miss Darren because he may miss the game, I don't know.
“I have a lot of trust in Jennings and believe he can get the job done.”
Jennings caught seven passes for 74 yards against the Eagles. He also has a pair of blocked punts on special teams on the season, against Washington and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
And as the Contra Costa Times notes, Jennings had 22 touches against the Eagles while purported matchup nightmare fullback Marcel Reece has 25 touches ... on the season.
“You know what? When you're in the game, you have no idea,” Jennings said of his stat line. “I'm the type of person ... you don't know where you're at. A part of the reason you're a pacifier or a mouthpiece is because I shut up and work. And after the game, we'll see what the outcome was.”
Then was it nice to get into a rhythm after McFadden left the game?
“It felt like it was supposed to,” he said. “It's football. Like I always tell you guys -- you're called to duty, go make plays. But regardless of that, the outcome was we lost. Didn't do enough, however you slice it or dice it, we go out there to play games to win.
“It's no building personal momentum. That's what I'm here to do, that's what I'm supposed to do. I know I left yards out there. I'm hard on myself probably more than anybody is. I'm a running back.”
And, it appears, the former seventh-round draft pick is the Raiders' starting running back until McFadden, the former No. 4 overall selection who has never played more than 13 games in a season and has missed 14 of Oakland's past 33 games, is healthy enough to play.
5hEric D. Williams