The Oakland Raiders’ run game has been a strength through its first three games, leading the league in yards per attempt and second in total yards.
They did this with a running back-by-committee approach, utilizing all three of their running backs and a fullback. Despite the success, the team was doing this without Pro Bowl fullback, Marcel Reece. The veteran fullback was serving the final three games of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy.
Now it’s certain that the Raiders’ backfield will continue on without Reece, as the team announced that the 31-year-old was released on Monday.
The move comes as a bit of a surprise due to Reece’s status as a team leader and versatility on the field. He caught 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns last season, while rushing just 10 times for 36 yards. Reece would fill many roles on offense, lining up in the backfield, in the slot, at tight end or even on the outside.
According to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t coincide the suspension with the release:
”I don’t know that the suspension played a big part in the decision,” coach Jack Del Rio said.
Del Rio expanded a bit on that point and why the team was comfortable with making the move:
”Other than to allow the guys that played, the backfield that we have, we’re using all those guys and they’re all doing a nice job in the roles that they have. We feel like it’s a good group and we don’t want to disrupt it.”
Reece was selected for his fourth straight Pro Bowl last season, although he didn’t play in the game because of the suspension. He’s been a team captain and one of the longest tenured member of the Raiders. His best season came in 2012 when he had 52 receptions for 496 yards and a touchdown to go with 59 rushes for 271 yards.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Reece found a new home within the next week.