USC offense in Oakland

Lane Kiffin

Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin has a plan. He wants to bring the USC offensive scheme to Alameda and the Coliseum.

Oakland's backfield picture came into focus as the Raiders completed a restructured contract with LaMont Jordan and agreed to terms with free agent Dominic Rhodes on a two-year deal worth $7.5 million.

Jordan, due a $4.75 million roster bonus, accepted $3 million instead after gaining 434 yards on 114 carries (3.8 per attempt). His season ended after nine games because of a torn MCL that did not require surgery.

In 23 games with Oakland after signing a 5-year, $25 million deal, Jordan has 1,459 yards rushing and has yet to score a rushing touchdown the road.

As a reserve to Curtis Martin with the New York Jets, Jordan twice averaged more than five yards per carry but never carried more than 96 times in a season.

He'll get more work than that with Oakland this year, but it's clear Rhodes was brought in to share the load. Rhodes averaged just 3.4 yards per carry with the Colts in 2006, but came to life in the playoffs with an NFL-high 306 yards and 4.9 yards per carry.

While the deal Rhodes signed speaks volumes, he was also given assurances that he would see the field and not just as a decoy.

"Kiffin wants to run the USC offense in Oakland," a source close to the team said. "Rhodes was the perfect fit for the two-back scheme he wants to employ with a lot of movement and misdirection. He signed because he believed what Lane will do."

With Rhodes and Jordan both available, it would seem less likely Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson, generally regarded as the top back available, would be a possibility with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, while co-offensive coordinator at Southern Cal, had his most success with a two-back system making use of both Reggie Bush and LenDale White.

Jordan and Rhodes, however, have running styles that aren't nearly as complementary as the lightning-and-thunder arrangement Kiffin had with the Trojans.

Both are well under 6-feet tall and are at their best as north-south runners who hit the hole hard and take what they can get, rather than looking to break a big gain.

Jordan and Rhodes can catch the ball, but neither is regarded as an exceptional receiver. Jordan had 70 receptions in 2005 but an alarming number of drops, leading to the Raiders seldom throwing to the backs last season.

Rhodes caught 36 passes in a Colts offense that throws heavily to their backs, but was regarded as a weaker receiver than Colts starting running back Joseph Addai.

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