Michael Bush just wants a shot. No promises. No guarantees. Just a chance.
Since joining the Raiders two-plus seasons ago after being selected in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL draft, Bush has waited as LaMont Jordan, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden received their opportunity. Now Bush gets to show if he is worthy of being an every-down running back in the NFL.
"You want to be that man," Bush said.
Bush became that man by virtue of a knee injury sustained by McFadden on Sunday against the Houston Texans. Bush is expected to start this Sunday against the New York Giants.
Being an every-down back is something Bush was accustomed to until he reached the NFL.
He played six positions at Male High School in Louisville, Ky., finishing fourth in Kentucky history for receiving yards. At the University of Louisville, Bush amassed 2,508 yards and 39 touchdowns rushing.
But everything changed when he broke a bone in his right leg during the opening game of his senior year at Louisville. He missed the rest of that 2006 season, as well as his rookie year with the Raiders.
He returned last year ready to compete for playing time but played sparingly behind Fargas and McFadden.
He appeared in 15 games, rushing for 421 yards and three touchdowns on 95 carries. All three scores and 267 of his yards came in two games.
It's that kind of production the Raiders envisioned when they made Bush the first player selected on
"Michael is a big, strong guy who would be starting for a lot of teams," left offensive tackle Mario Henderson said. "We're fortunate that we have three backs that are capable of starting, and each one brings something different to the table. He just needs a chance."
Fargas said Oakland's backs are a tight-knit group; that they pull for each other and refrain from letting the competition for playing time strain their relationships.
"We know when we go as a group, the offense goes, so to speak," Fargas said. "We just know that we have to keep picking each other up. We're all talented, and we all respect each other."
The San Diego Chargers tried to trade for Bush last season, but the Raiders declined an offer for a third-round draft pick. Several other teams have attempted to pry Bush from the Raiders, too.
"When his opportunities have come, he has really taken it and stood up and done something with it," Raiders coach Tom Cable said. "That will continue to happen. We're fortunate to have three like that. One goes down, and we still got two (who are) pretty productive, too."
McFadden has a firm grasp on the starting job based on his being the No. 4 pick overall in the 2008 NFL draft and the Raiders paying him $26 million guaranteed. He is out 2-4 weeks.
That gives Bush a small window to make an impression. There are those inside and outside the Raiders' organization who feel Bush is best-suited among the Raider runners for being the every-down back because of his impressive blend of size, speed and strength.
Four injuries sustained by McFadden in his first 17 games — two turf toes, a shoulder and now the knee — seem to bolster that theory. Now, Bush has an opportunity to make his case on the field.
"We all want that number one spot," Bush said. "Basically, it's a way for us pushing each other on the field. "... It's still a competition, and that's what makes us better. This is what we all love to do. You want to be that man, and we're all pushing each other."