Raiders coach Tom Cable makes no secret of his admiration for Justin Fargas. The seventh-year running back plays the game the way Cable was taught from an early age, and it's part of the reason why Fargas has emerged from a crowded backfield and into the forefront.
Fargas spent much of the first five games this season recovering from a groin injury and watching as Cable experimented with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush as the lead back.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Cable turned to Fargas almost exclusively in an effort to re-energize Oakland's running game. Fargas responded with an 87-yard effort.
"I have a fondness for him in that he plays the game the way you're supposed to," Cable said. "He's just all out and really doesn't worry about his body. He just goes at the defense a thousand miles per hour. Let the smoke clear and do it again. I like that. Our team needs that."
Despite Fargas' recent success, he still might be waiting his turn if it weren't for injuries to McFadden and Bush. McFadden suffered a torn knee ligament against the Texans on Oct. 4 and is out for up to four weeks. Bush got whacked in the back of the head early on against the Eagles and missed most of the game.
Cable believes there's a need for three running backs over the course of a 16-game season. That's the precise reason the Raiders selected McFadden No. 4 in the 2008 NFL draft and turned down trade offers for Bush each of the past two seasons.
"We know we have a solid group," Fargas said, "and we know that each guy can perform and get the job done. You always have to be ready, whether you're the starter or if you're going in second or just coming in to change the pace. We do a good job of that."
Cable, obviously, feels obligated to play McFadden when healthy, given the Raiders selected McFadden to be a focal point of the offense and paid him $26 million guaranteed.
Yet, Cable might be forced to reconsider how he uses his three backs once McFadden returns in a game or two. McFadden has averaged only 3.1 yards on his 47 carries. Bush is at 3.7 on 48 carries, Fargas at 3.0 on 46 carries.
However, Fargas has experienced being the lead back during each of the past two seasons, when he rushed for a combined 1,862 yards and 4.2 yards a carry.
Through it all, the backs don't get too concerned over who starts the game. As long as someone is getting the job done, everyone is on board with the rotation.
"It's a long season," Bush said. "From day one, we've always pushed each other. Even though we're close friends, we want to get the most carries. It's a luxury thing having three backs who can get the job done. It's a nice situation we have here."
Cable said Fargas' reckless style of play is something the others feed off and leads to inspired play all around.
"That really kind of underlines taking the fight to the opponent," Cable said. "So, I'm proud of him and proud of what he brings to the table."