Rhodes finds running room and opportunity

Dominic Rhodes

Dominic Rhodes has only three games in his career in which he surpassed the 115 yards he gained against Jacksonville.

All came in his rookie year in 2001 when he had 29 carries for 177 yards against Atlanta, 17 carries for 126 yards against the New York Jets and 31 carries for 141 yards against Denver.

Dominic Rhodes was back in his element and loving it even if his team lost by 38 points.

Rhodes, getting his first crack at being the featured ball carrier for the Raiders, didn't like the final score but liked not having to watch his teammates from afar.

With Justin Fargas and his 1,009 yards on the sideline in street clothes with an MCL sprain, Rhodes carried more in a 49-11 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars than he had all season.

He went into the game with just 19 carries for 65 yards, but had 27 attempts for 115 yards against Jacksonville. It was his first productive game since gaining 113 yards in last year's Super Bowl win by the Indianapolis Colts over the Chicago Bears.

"I had a good time out there," Rhodes said. "It was an opportunity to get out there and battle with my teammates, feel like I'm a part of something, whether it's winning or losing. I didn't have a good time losing, but I had a good time battling."

Rhodes signed a two-year contract in the offseason and missed the first four games because of a suspension violating the NFL policy on substance abuse. By the time he was re-instated, LaMont Jordan was among the league leaders in rushing and Fargas had exploded on to the scene with 179 yards in a little more than a half against the Miami Dolphins.

It was Fargas who was competing with Jordan, eventually taking the job as the lead back, with Rhodes relegated to the background.

When Fargas went down, coach Lane Kiffin said Rhodes and Jordan would share the position, but it soon became apparent Jordan was now the odd man out. Rhodes felt funny about it, but only for a short time.

"I got to thinking, 'Hey, they're going to give me the rock,' " Rhodes said. "That's all I care about. If they're going to give me the rock, I'm ready, let's go. Then they gave me the rock and let me go out and do my thing."

If Rhodes was angry and confused about finding himself on the bench so much of the year, he is either over it or hiding it well.

"You know what? It's not even about that right now," Rhodes said. "It's more about I want to be in there helping the team. People can say what they want, but the coaches, they know what they're doing. And right now, all I'm doing is proving that, 'Hey, I'm what you asked for.' That's all I want to prove."

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