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Raiders buck tradition by featuring throws to running backs

| Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in Miami. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Throughout their history, the Oakland Raiders have been synonymous with throwing the ball vertically to fast receivers.

While the Raiders still like their “go” routes, they've been finding plenty of success lately throwing the ball to their running backs, especially the “Fast Screen Pass.”

In two games, 22 of Carson Palmer's 56 completions have gone to running backs — 15 of which were caught by Darren McFadden.

The “Fast Screen Pass” may not be the Raiders' most popular play, but it has been one of their most successful.

Oakland ran the play only three times in two games, but it has proved to be hard to defend.

Oakland's first play of the season was a 9-yard gain on the screen. Last week, McFadden went for 13 yards on the play, and reserve Mike Goodson scored one of the Raiders' only two touchdowns of the season with a 64-yard “Fast Screen Pass” against Miami.

The Raiders typically like to call the play during early downs as a way to make third downs more manageable.

But as proof from last week with Goodson's touchdown, it could turn into a big play with minimal risk involved.

The Raiders typically employ two receivers, a tight end, a fullback and a tailback on the play.

Tight end Richard Gordon goes in motion from right to left, then back to the right before settling at the end of the line to show Palmer if the opposing defense is in man or zone coverage.

With the tackles set in two-point stances showing pass protection technique, at the snap, center Stefen Wisniewski blocks the nose, then slips out into the right flat along with right guard Mike Brisiel.

Unlike a typical “slow” screen when the tailback stays in the backfield, fakes pass protection and then slips out to be the receiver, the Raiders use an up-tempo version of that play.

Instead of faking pass protection, the tailback — either McFadden or Goodson — will sprint horizontally to the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball and stop in between the numbers and the hash marks waiting for the quick pass from Palmer.

The pause by the running back waiting for the pass is brief.

The running back catches the ball and turns up field looking for his escort of Wisniewski and Brisiel.

The “fast” screen is designed to take advantage of linebackers playing zone coverage. The Raiders want to get the runner into open space quickly and before an inside linebacker can pursue to the sideline.

If the runner can get a downfield block or two by a wide receiver, the play could turn into a touchdown like it did against Miami.

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at mkaboly@tribweb.com.

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