Darren McFadden is the guy as long as his body cooperates.
But the other guys vying for a role behind him say there's room for more than one regular backfield contributor in the Raiders' new offense.
Plus, McFadden's dazzling, yet injury-plagued career suggests either Mike Goodson or Taiwan Jones must be prepared this fall to step in as the featured back.
The Raiders no longer have Michael Bush, the power back who finished just shy of a 1,000-yard season after McFadden missed the final nine games with a foot injury. Bush signed a free-agent deal in March with the Chicago Bears, and the Raiders enter this week's minicamp and beyond with competition behind McFadden.
"In this offense, you're definitely going to need more than one guy," said Goodson. "The things that (McFadden) does with the ball are amazing, but definitely to have another guy that can run the ball will be good."
"Seeing that we changed to a (zone running scheme), you kind of get the feeling that we're going to run a little more," he said. "You need a good two to three running backs out there."
Goodson is the experienced newcomer, acquired from the Carolina Panthers in March in a trade for offensive guard Bruce Campbell. The 25-year-old had his best season in 2010, with 452 yards on 103 carries (4.4 average) and 40 catches for 310 yards, though he also fumbled six times.
Last season, he missed 12 games with a hamstring injury and finished the season with no carries and one catch for four yards. The hamstring hasn't been a problem this offseason, Goodson said, and he's grateful for a fresh start.
"Definitely," he said. "I think every year is important, but this year especially because I get a new opportunity with another team. I'm just blessed to be here so I'm going to give it everything I've got."
Goodson is said to be a better pass catcher than Jones, and the 23-year-old Jones the speedier of the two. Used sparingly by the Raiders last year as a rookie, Jones had 16 carries for 73 yards (4.6 average), caught two passes and returned eight kickoffs. Then he, too, injured a hamstring, missing the Raiders' last six games.
Experiencing his first full NFL offseason, Jones said he feels healthy and has worked on bulking up to handle more up-the-middle runs. After playing at less than 190 pounds last year, he said, he's between 190 and 198. Versatility could be important.
"They do a good job of lining the running backs out in different places, outside or in the slot, so you've definitely got to have hands," Jones said.
In a backup, Raiders coach Dennis Allen said, "We're looking for a guy that can run the ball effectively, we're looking for a guy that can pass-protect, and also that's a weapon out of the backfield.
"I don't look at the backup much different than I would look at the starting running back. We're going to ask him to do the same types of things, and we're going to expect positive results."
At least in one sense, all the backs are on equal footing. Allen and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp are introducing the zone blocking scheme, a shift for the Raiders that Goodson said also is different from what he ran behind in Carolina.
"I'm loving this offense, man," Goodson said. "The zone scheme, I'm just loving seeing these big holes, being able to run and show speed and hit the holes and run."
Said Jones: "I feel like it works to my advantage. It's one cut and go, and I like it."