Oakland Raiders running back Mike Goodson is looking forward to playing in Carolina for the first time since being traded by the Panthers in the offseason.
He just doesn't know what type of reception to expect.
Goodson spent his first three NFL seasons with Carolina, still owns property there and routinely talks to some of his former teammates. Even Panthers coach Ron Rivera considers himself a fan of Goodson's and speaks glowingly about the 2009 fourth-round draft pick.
Make no mistake, however. While he remains on friendly terms with his former club, Goodson definitely wants to make a point to the Panthers.
"It's a pretty big deal," Goodson said Wednesday. "That's my old team and where I used to be for so long. (They) know me and know of me. I want to beat them just as bad as I want to beat anybody else."
While the scenery has changed, Goodson's role has remained pretty much the same in Oakland as it was in Carolina. He has been the primary backup behind Darren McFadden and has picked up additional reps returning kickoffs.
McFadden has struggled adjusting to the zone blocking schemes the Raiders use, but Goodson has excelled in the few opportunities he has had.
Goodson's 6.7 yards-per-carry average — on only 30 carries — is nearly twice that of McFadden's 3.4. He also has a higher receiving average than any other running back or tight end on Oakland's roster, and has the team's longest kickoff return this season.
That is not surprising to Rivera, who saw Goodson have similar success in 2010 when he put together back-to-back 100-yard games after Carolina running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were hurt.
Rivera backed the offseason trade that sent Goodson to the Raiders for offensive line prospect Bruce Campbell but remains fond of his former player.
"We have always liked Mike," Rivera said during a conference call. "We tried to find a spot for him last year in all the things that we did. It's not one of those things where we gave up on him. I am glad to see that he's playing and doing the things he needed to do to be out on the field. Mike is a terrific athlete."
The timing of Goodson's return to Carolina couldn't be better. He is coming off his best rushing performance in more than two years and is trying to help the Raiders win consecutive games for only the second time this season.
That is a much different scenario than he expected to face this late in the year. Then again, not much has gone as planned for Goodson or the Raiders.
Oakland's running game has been abysmal for most of the season. McFadden and Goodson only recently returned from foot injuries they sustained in a loss on Nov. 4 to Tampa Bay. While they were out, the Raiders had to turn to fullback Marcel Reece to carry the load in the backfield.
"You just take it in stride," Goodson said. "I've had a lot of practice time, so the coaches have got to see me. I just try to make plays and make all of my touches count."
Oakland is 29th in total rushing and has had a running back reach the 100-yard mark only three times all year.
Goodson nearly did it last week against Kansas City when he ran for a season-high 89 yards on 13 carries. McFadden carried 30 times for 110 yards.
It was Goodson's most yards rushing since he had a career-best 120 against Baltimore on Nov. 21, 2010.
"I like some of the things he's done," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He's added an element of explosiveness. He's done a nice job in the screen game. He's had a couple games this year where he's really ran the ball pretty good. I think him and Darren are a nice complement to each other."
NOTES: CB Phillip Adams practiced fielding punts Wednesday after being cleared by team doctors after sustaining his second concussion in three games. ... K Sebastian Janikowski was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after making five field goals, including a 57-yarder, against Kansas City. ... DT Richard Seymour (knee, hamstring) and S Tyvon Branch (ankle) didn't practice. Of the two, Branch is more likely to play at Carolina.
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