ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -Dominic Rhodes spent the past four weeks running on a side field while the rest of his Oakland Raiders teammates practiced.
On Sundays, Rhodes would try to watch on television as his fellow running backs piled up big yardage behind an improved offensive line.
With his four-week suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy over, Rhodes returned to practice Wednesday for the first time since the end of the preseason. Rhodes will have to wait even longer to get into a game because the Raiders (2-2) have a bye on Sunday.
For now, he's just happy to be back and wants to make sure he doesn't repeat the mistakes that led to his ban.
on my best behavior.''
Rhodes was suspended after pleading guilty in the offseason to reckless driving charges in Indiana after prosecutors agreed to drop drunken driving charges against him.
The Raiders knew a suspension was likely when they signed him to a two-year contract in the offseason that could be worth up to $7.5 million, but wanted him anyway.
Rhodes played the entire preseason before serving his suspension. He was able to work out at the Raiders' practice facility, watch game film and study game plans during the suspension, but every time the team practiced, Rhodes could only run to stay in shape.
``I'll tell you what, the running over there, I think that's kind of punishment or something,'' he said. ``They run you to death over there, so I didn't like that. Like I said, I'm excited to be back out there on the field, with the pads on and stuff. It was tough just watching everybody work out here.''
Game days were even more difficult. Rhodes said it was difficult to watch on television and not be able to play. Making it even harder was seeing all those big holes the offensive line created for LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas and thinking about what he could do if he were in the game.
The Raiders lead the NFL in rushing so far with 194.3 yards per game.
``I beat myself up because I know that 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. That's what it is. 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.''
Rhodes' return comes at a good time for Oakland. Jordan missed the second half of last Sunday's 35-17 victory at Miami with a sore back. Jordan did not practice Wednesday and it's unknown if he will be back for the team's next game Oct. 14 against San Diego.
Rhodes started all 16 regular-season games for Indianapolis in 2006, rushing for 641 yards and five touchdowns. After backing up Edgerrin James since entering the league, Rhodes shared the job last season with rookie Joseph Addai. He has 2,274 yards rushing in his career.
He had one of his best performances in the Colts' Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears, rushing for 113 yards in Indianapolis' 29-17 victory.
Fullback Justin Griffith is excited to add another back to the mix.
``He reminds me of Warrick Dunn a little bit, but a lot bigger than Warrick and he's little more explosive than Warrick is,'' said Griffith, who played with Dunn in Atlanta. ``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 we're doing here.''

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