Rhodes, suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL substance abuse policy, has watched as his Raiders teammates piled up big numbers, leading the league in rushing at 194.2 yards per game.
He last played in a team setting Aug. 30 in the exhibition finale against the Seattle Seahawks. Since then, Rhodes has attended meetings and watched film with his teammates but has been relegated to working out with injured players, unable to participate in drills or practices.
The Raiders have a bye this week, practicing Wednesday and today with no game Sunday.
"It's been a frustrating process leading up to now, I'm here, and it's an off week, so I've got to wait even longer," Rhodes said. "I never want to have to go through this again, so I'm going to be on my best behavior."
Last Feb. 20, 16 days after gaining 113 yards rushing for the Indianapolis Colts in a 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears, Rhodes was pulled over at 3 a.m. by state troopers in Indianapolis for driving 81 mph in a 55 mph zone.
With a blood alcohol concentration of .09, over the Indiana legal limit of .08, Rhodes was charged with DUI.
He became a free agent Feb. 28, the Colts elected not to re-sign him, and Rhodes signed with the Raiders after meeting with the New York Giants and turning down a visit with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Raiders were aware that with a domestic battery charge in 2002, Rhodes was at risk for a four-game suspension after the DUI. Coach Lane Kiffin called anyway, and Rhodes signed a two-year contract March 9.
Rhodes was suspended July 3 but was eligible for training camp and didn't become a spectator until the regular season began.
"I beat myself up because I know I could have been putting together some pretty big games," Rhodes said. "Other times I was just saying, 'You made your bed, so lay in it. You have to deal with this. You'll be back.' Something good is going to come out of it. I think everything happens for a reason. I'm here for a reason."
The Raiders were even more eager to see Rhodes back in action than they were a week earlier because of a back injury to LaMont Jordan, the NFL's second-leading rusher with 424 yards.
Jordan didn't practice Wednesday, and the Raiders released no information regarding his condition. He has had back issues since training camp, and having Rhodes, who led the NFL in postseason rushing yards last season with 306, allows the Raiders to take their time with Jordan.
Rhodes said he considers himself "both rusty and fresh" and is looking forward to getting back in a groove heading into the San Diego game Oct. 14.
"My teammates have been excited about me coming back," Rhodes said. "Every week they're counting down with me. They're kind of calling me out in front of everybody now that I'm back on the field."
Fullback Justin Griffith believes there's always room for another good running back.
"He reminds me of (Atlanta's) Warrick Dunn a little bit, but a lot bigger than Warrick and a little more explosive," Griffith said. "Adding him to what we've already got going with LaMont and Justin Fargas is going to make us even better. It gives us something to be excited about, especially with the stuff going on here."
Notes: Quarterback Daunte Culpepper was named AFC player of the week for having a hand in all five touchdowns (three rushing, two passing) against Miami. ... Defensive end Derrick Burgess (calf) joined his team at practice for the first time in more than two weeks. ... Fullback Oren O'Neal (hamstring) worked out on an adjacent field with linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba (foot). ... Wide receiver Alvis Whitted was one of five receivers who worked out for the Raiders on Tuesday, the others being Brandon Williams, Courtney Roby, Bryan Gilmore and Rod Gardner. Gilmore re-signed with the 49ers, who had released Williams last week. Whitted spent the previous five seasons with Oakland before being released at the end of training camp.
Contact Jerry McDonald at email@example.com.