Just as training camp was about to begin, the Raiders backfield was dealt a blow. Fullback Keith Smith has hurt his knee, according to Ian Rapoport. FBs aren’t as popular on NFL rosters anymore, but head coach Jon Gruden loves to have one. Keith Smith is a solid blocking option and doesn’t bring much else to the table. He is an important member of the backfield and figures to play a necessary role in 2019. The extent of his injury isn’t completely clear, but it seems like he should be back well before the season starts.
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With Raiders’ Keith Smith Hurt, Rookie Alec Ingold Has Rare Opportunity
While the injury doesn’t seem too serious, this gives undrafted rookie FB Alec Ingold a golden opportunity to step up. Ingold might not be a name that too many Raiders fans are familiar with, but with Smith’s absence, he should get a lot of first-team reps in training camp. That’s a pretty good position to be in for an undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin. Before the draft, NFL.com praised his blocking ability but noted it’s would be hard for him to make a roster:
“High school wrestling champ bringing balance and resolute nature with him onto the field at Wisconsin. Ingold’s feel for angles and radar to block space could be appealing to outside zone-heavy teams, but there is a low employment rate at his position, which could make finding a roster spot difficult.”
It’s true that FB is far from a premium position in the NFL these days, but Ingold couldn’t be in a better situation than he is with the Raiders. Jon Gruden is old school and he loves him some fullbacks. Ingold was pretty much irrelevant as a rushing or receiving threat in college and that will probably continue to be the case in the NFL. He’ll need to impress as a blocker if he has any chance of making an NFL team.
Potential Other Options if Smith Is out for Long
It’s safe to assume that Raiders fans would be more than happy to welcome Marcel Reece back to the team. Reece was such a great playmaker as a FB during his time with the Raiders. At 34 years old, Reece is definitely at the backend of his athletic peak, but it sure would be fun to see him don the silver and black again. As fun as it would be, Reece has been out of the NFL since 2016 and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be chomping at the bit to get back.
Mike Tolbert is another guy that was one of the best FBs in the league when he played that hasn’t been on a team in a while. He hasn’t played a down since 2017, but he is only 33 years old and could maybe put together one more strong year. Tre Madden is a much younger option and he did play in 2018. He’s currently a free agent and would probably be more than happy to make his way to Oakland if they give him a chance.