Jordan: 'I accept the challenge'

Updated: March 3, 2005, 10:08 PM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- LaMont Jordan gained more yards as a backup last season than the Oakland Raiders' leading rusher.

LaMont Jordan
Running Back
New York Jets
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
93 479 2 15 112 0

The Raiders finalized a five-year, $27.5 million contract with the free-agent running back Thursday in a move they believe will boost their ineffective ground game.

Finally a starter, Jordan is eager to show what he can do with more chances.

"I know people are going to say 'He's never carried the load' and there are going to be a lot of questions. I accept the challenge because I know I'm going to succeed," Jordan said. "I'm very confident. I did it in high school. I did it in college. Coming into the NFL I wasn't prepared for that and I went on my natural talent. ...

"Now, not only do I have the talent but I have the knowledge and what it takes to be a pro," he said.

Jordan's agent, Alvin Keels, said Jordan will receive $11 million in guaranteed money and $17.8 million over the first three years of the contract, including $15.7 million in bonuses.

The addition of the 26-year-old Jordan gives the Raiders another young talent to join an already youthful offense that includes receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter and linemen Robert Gallery and Jake Grove.

"I think he has a chance to be as complete a back as I've been around," coach Norv Turner said. "We're not talking about a rookie coming in and everything being new."

Jordan arrived in town Wednesday to meet with the team before signing his contract Thursday morning.

Jordan, who spent his first four seasons with the New York Jets, carried 93 times for 479 yards and two touchdowns last season and also made 15 catches for 112 yards. Turner likes his durability and the fact he can also catch passes.

The Raiders are determined to revive their running game, and Jordan has been waiting to become a full-time back after playing behind Curtis Martin all his career. Jordan has a career average of 4.9 yards per carry. He believes he can handle rushing the ball 20 times every Sunday.

Oakland was in negotiations to acquire Jordan last year but nothing got done.

The Jets made him an offer this offseason, but Jordan decided to test free agency. He said several other teams were also interested.

He grew tired of being told he was in the Jets' plans but still stuck behind Martin, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his 10 NFL seasons.

"I wanted to play," Jordan said. "I've sat on the bench for four years. I learned from Curtis. Although I learned a lot, it was frustrating because I am a competitor."

The Raiders gained only 1,295 yards rushing on 328 carries last season. Each week, Turner said he was committed to improving the Raiders' production on the ground, but they continued to struggle.

"(Offensive coordinator) Jimmy Raye coached LaMont in New York, so we know a lot about him," Turner said. "We know the type of work ethic, the type of ability he brings. We're excited to have him and we believe he's going to be a premier runner for our organization."

Finding a talented running back was one of the club's top priorities this offseason. Amos Zereoue was the team's most productive running back during the Raiders' 5-11 season, getting 425 yards on 112 carries with three TDs.

Tyrone Wheatley, second behind Zereoue, was released Wednesday, the same day the Raiders introduced Moss and brought him to team headquarters in a stretch limo escorted by seven officers on motorcycles.

"As exciting as yesterday was, the hoopla with the motorcade, this is just as exciting to me," Turner said.

Also Thursday, the Raiders waived linebacker DeLawrence Grant and guard Ron Stone.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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