NAPA (CBS SF / AP) — The Oakland Raiders got two important offensive pieces in town Saturday with restricted free agent running back Michael Bush signing his contract tender and tight end Kevin Boss practicing for the first since signing as a free agent.
Bush missed the first 11 days of training camp as a restricted free agent. But with no teams willing to make him an offer that would have cost them a No. 1 pick in compensation to the Raiders, he decided to sign his $2.6 million tender and report to camp Saturday.
“It was just best for me to come in at this time instead of stretching it out,” he said. “I just came in. The sooner I got here the better I can get in the playbook and the better I can move forward.”
The Raiders were not worried about Bush’s absence because they could match any offer he received, but were glad he arrived in camp Saturday because the team is thin at tailback because of injuries.
Starter Darren McFadden is out for a couple of weeks with a broken orbital bone in his face, while rookie Taiwan Jones and veteran Michael Bennett have been slowed by injuries.
Bush worked his way back in slowly at his first practice, participating in only a handful of plays. He also needed to catch up on new terminology and changes in the offense so he went in the huddle even on plays he didn’t participate in just to speed up his grasp of the offense.
“I felt like I hadn’t been playing football for a while,” he said. “But it’s OK. I’ll get it back.”
Bush rushed for 655 yards and eight touchdowns last season, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He teamed with McFadden to give Oakland one of the best running duos in the league. The Raiders were second in the league in rushing last season with 155.9 yards per game, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
“He’s a very physical football player,” coach Hue Jackson said. “I think there are a lot of safeties across our division and league who don’t like running into him. He knows how to run the ball, whether it’s outside or inside. He knows what it takes to win up here. Michael is going to contribute to this team.”
Bush, a fourth-round pick in 2007, sat out his first season while recovering from a leg he broke in college. By not playing in 2007, Bush did not get credit for a season and must wait until next offseason to become an unrestricted free agent.
Boss, a fifth-round pick by the New York Giants in 2007, got to go on the open market this summer and ended up in Oakland as the replacement for Pro Bowler Zach Miller when the Giants did not make an aggressive play to keep him.
Boss visited the Raiders on Wednesday, when he took part in a short workout and went to dinner with Jackson and other coaches. He flew back to New York on Thursday before signing the four-year contract for $16 million with $8 million guaranteed on Friday. He flew back to the West Coast and practiced for the first time with his new team Saturday.
“One of my biggest assets is being a pass catcher so I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do in terms of lining up in different positions,” Boss said. “It’s going to be fun, you know, Zach Miller had a lot of success here and I am hoping to continue that success at this position.”
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Boss gives the Raiders a proven downfield target and an accomplished blocker to replace Miller, who signed as a free agent with Seattle on Tuesday.
Boss had 35 catches for 531 yards and five touchdowns last season for the Giants. He got his shot as a rookie in 2007 after Jeremy Shockey got injured and helped the Giants win the Super Bowl. He had 119 passes for 1,600 yards with 18 touchdowns in four seasons.
“He’s big,” Jackson said. “Oh God, just throw it up there and let him go catch it. Every now and then, just toss the ball up there and Boss will catch it. It’s nice to have a guy like that. I haven’t been around many guys that tall at tight end. But not only is he tall, he can really catch the ball. He’s very smart and I think he’s a very good blocker. I’m going to see more as we go, but this guy has it.”
Notes: The Raiders also signed WRs Chad Jackson, Shawn Bayes and Derek Hagan, and FB Bryson Kelly. … OL Justin Smiley decided to retire. … The Raiders will be off on Sunday.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)