ATLANTA — C.J. Anderson came and went last December, his time with the Raiders the most abbreviated tenure of his NFL career. He signed on a Tuesday and was waived a week later. The locker he occupied, near those assigned to center Rodney Hudson and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, was cleaned out as abruptly as assembled.
The short-lived arrangement lasted long enough, Anderson said, to form an opinion about one aspect of the Raiders’ inner workings.
“Jon Gruden,” he said Tuesday. “Gruden’s doing the right things over there.”
The Los Angeles Rams running back is an unlikely participant at this Super Bowl. The Raiders were the third of four teams to carry him on their roster during the 2018 league year, following the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers. He seized his fourth chance, helping guide the Rams to their Sunday matchup against the New England Patriots.
Anderson spent one game with Oakland. He didn’t see the field for it.
Running back Doug Martin dealt with a knee issue entering a Dec. 9 meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, so the Raiders needed insurance. In walked Anderson, 27, whose tubby physique fit in better with his linemen locker neighbors than it did his fellow running backs. Martin ended up playing; Anderson was a healthy scratch for the 24-21 win.
When cut on Dec. 11, he cleared waivers.
Some might consider the ending a blessing in disguise, given the opportunity that followed.
“I don’t think you’ll ever be happy to get cut,” Anderson said. “Are you happy to get fired?”
Los Angeles signed him on Dec. 18.
While he might not pass the eye test for a prototypical NFL running back, he dismantled any notion he cannot perform. The former Pro Bowler totaled 66 carries for 422 yards and four touchdowns in his first three games, including a 23-carry, 123-yard, two-score outing in the Rams’ 30-22 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round.
“Fat, thick. I don’t care,” said Anderson, who is expected to occupy the No. 2 spot in the backfield Sunday to Todd Gurley. “Professionals have a tough time tackling me.”
Anderson speaks his mind.
That includes how impressed he was, watching Gruden lead the Raiders.
“Some people don’t believe that because of the way the (4-12) record went,” Anderson said. “But the preparation, how Jon sees the game, how coach Gruden dissects the game and dissects defenses was very, very interesting. I learned a lot from during that time period of being there. That’s why they came up with that (win) against the Steelers when I was there.”
Anderson grew up in Vallejo, California, about 25 miles north of the Raiders’ headquarters in Alameda.
Like Marshawn Lynch, he attended college at California in Berkeley.
There is no formal indication where the Raiders will play their home games in 2019. Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to address this issue — which figures to be resolved in the coming weeks — on Wednesday at his annual Super Bowl news conference.
Wherever the Raiders play, Anderson said that he anticipates they will correct their course in time.
The franchise has one winning season the past 16 years.
“I think Gruden’s got a plan,” Anderson said. “No one knows the plan except him and probably (general manager) Mike Mayock now. I think the way they do things — if they put the right players together — because of the way they do things when I was there for that week, it’s the correct way of winning football games.”
He would know.