ALAMEDA -- File the Raiders' use of fullback Marcel Reece through nine games under the category of "unsolved mysteries."
Reece, with unique rushing/receiving skills at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, was given a four-year, $14.4 million contract extension ($7.2 million guaranteed) that suggested he was part of the foundation upon which general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen wished to build.
Yet with his first Pro Bowl in tow and playing in an offense that could use a playmaker, Reece remains the Raiders' semi-invisible man as they visit the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Reece had three catches for 30 yards last week, matching his average for offensive touches per game this season.
Reece's coaches insist that his time will come. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson calls himself "one of Marcel's biggest fans" and said the Raiders are "constantly looking for ways to get him out in space."
Opposing coaches used to go out of their way in weekly conference calls to talk about the difficulties in defending Reece. With 13 rushes for 57 yards and 15 receptions for 138 yards, he rarely gets mentioned anymore.
Not that Reece is complaining. Since he first arrived on a tryout basis after being released by the Miami Dolphins in 2008, he has never uttered a discouraging word.
"I keep telling you guys it's going to come my way, and when it does, rest assured I'm going to be ready for it," Reece said.
Even with Darren McFadden out with a hamstring strain against the Giants, Reece didn't carry the ball. With McFadden out for a four-game stretch in 2012, Reece had 54 carries for 261 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per attempt.
The first time Reece carried the ball this season was Week 2, and he ran 11 yards for a touchdown against Jacksonville. More than half his rushes this season came in a win over San Diego (seven rushes, 32 yards) and he averaged 4.6 yards per carry.
Allen said the Raiders had planned to get Reece some carries against the Giants but were reluctant to remove Rashad Jennings, who had 88 yards on 20 carries.
"When you get in those situations, you stick with the hot hand," Allen said. "This week we'll have a plan to get Marcel some touches. Hopefully we'll be able to do that."
Reece remains vigilant and philosophical.
"Do I want the ball? Yes, I want the ball," Reece said. "Do I want it often? Yes, I want it often. I want the ball every time I step on the field. It's just reality that the game doesn't always go that way."
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor noted recently teams have begun to play Reece with a cornerback instead of a safety or a linebacker, making it a less favorable matchup.
One reason Reece's touches are down is that his playing time has been down as well. A fullback often comes off the field for extra wide receivers, but Reece was on the field a lot more under former coordinator Greg Knapp (61 percent of the snaps) than under Olson (40 percent).
Reece, for instance, has played 140 fewer snaps than rookie nonstarting tight end Mychal Rivera, who often doesn't line up as a conventional tight end in roles that would also suit Reece.
Reece said he loves Olson's system and his strategies and vows to do what it takes to best serve the offense.
"Oley and I are going to start doing these interviews together so everybody knows we are on the same page," Reece said. "He knows I want (the ball). He wants to give it to me."