Former Panther Goodson’s back, in Raiders black

jperson@charlotteobserver.comDecember 22, 2012 

With one carry Sunday against Carolina, Oakland running back Mike Goodson will surpass his total from his final season with the Panthers.

In a two-year span in Charlotte, Goodson went from a versatile, change-of-pace back to the forgotten man to trade bait. He returns to Bank of America Stadium on Sunday fresh from his best game with the Raiders – an 89-yard rushing effort against Kansas City that included a 43-yard gain.

“I know he’s going to be jacked-up to have a good game against us. And that guy’s a talented player. He always has been,” Panthers offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. “I know that he’s going to want to get his hands on the ball as much as he can. At the same token, I know our defense is going to be excited to try to shut him down.”

Touches were few and far between for Goodson last season after Ron Rivera and his staff arrived. Goodson got off to a bad start with fumbling issues during training camp, and never really worked his way out of Rivera’s doghouse.

Also, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams stayed healthy, unlike the 2010 season when Goodson had consecutive 100-yard rushing games near midseason and finished with 103 carries for 452 yards and three touchdowns – all career highs.

Goodson, the Panthers’ fourth-round pick in 2009, appeared in four games last season when Williams and Stewart played in all 16. He had zero carries, one catch for 4 yards and a 22.7-yard average on 11 kickoff returns.

Goodson said coaches never gave him an explanation for his disappearing act.

“I just kind of took it as whatever and I kept working hard,” Goodson said this week in a conference call with Charlotte media. “Eventually the trade happened, but it’s worked out to be a good thing. I have no hard feelings.”

Goodson said the March 30 trade that sent him to Oakland in exchange for offensive lineman Bruce Campbell surprised him.

It shouldn’t have. Eleven days earlier, the Panthers had acquired free agent running back Mike Tolbert.

“We had two backs already. You bring in Mike, who is a hybrid and plays that role for us in the nickel package, it kind of put Mike (Goodson) on the way out,” Rivera said Friday. “And rather than cut a guy like that, there was some trade value.”

The Raiders have gotten the better end of the deal so far.

Although Goodson is the backup to Darren McFadden, he’s averaging 6.7 yards a carry, has caught 15 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown, and is the Raiders’ primary kick returner.

“Whenever I can get in I try to bring a spark,” Goodson said. “I’ve been doing a lot of special teams, doing kickoff return and kickoff. Just get in and try to make plays.”

Oakland coach Dennis Allen said Goodson has been a nice complement to McFadden.

“He came in under the thought that he was going to be battling for a position on the roster, and he earned the right to be on this roster and he’s done a nice job for us,” Allen said. “He at times has done a really nice job a running the football. He’s been our kickoff returner when he’s been healthy. He’s been a nice addition.”

Meanwhile, Campbell has been inactive for 10 of the 14 games while playing behind Gross at left tackle. Rivera said Campbell, who was a guard with the Raiders, is limited because he plays only the left side.

“Bruce has been a raw product for us,” Gross said. “He’s a big, talented lot-of-potential guy. But moving positions out there in Oakland and having a couple different O-line coaches. I think he’s really flourished in this system. … He’s getting better every week. Fortunately, our tackles have been healthy so he hasn’t had to get in there.”

As Gross suggested, Goodson, who stays in touch with several Panthers, wants to get in the game as much as possible against his former team.

“I definitely do,” Goodson said.

But Goodson has a more important goal for the 4-10 Raiders.

“I just want to come out and get a win.”

Person: 704-358-5123; Twitter: @josephperson

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