The Oakland Raiders backfield got hit a blow when it was announced that Doug Martin was going to be put on injured reserve. The veteran running back looked like he was set to be the primary backup to rookie Josh Jacobs. However, that’s not going to be the case any longer, leaving Jacobs along with Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington. Both of these guys have talent, but they’re most effective as receivers out of the backfield.
This leaves Jacobs as the only real rushing threat on the roster. He’s also known for his receiving ability, but his vision and power make him very good as a runner. In his first preseason action against the Arizona Cardinals, Jacobs showed these skills as he averaged 5.2 yards per carry on four runs. He wasn’t able to show off his skill as a receiver, but that skillset will be less necessary with Washington and Richard playing roles.
The Raiders haven’t had particularly great play from the running back position over the last several years. Latavius Murray was able to make it to a pro bowl while being a member of the silver and black, but other than that season, he wasn’t consistent. Marshawn Lynch played admirably during his two years in Oakland, but battled injuries during both seasons and never broke 1,000 years. The Raiders used a top-five pick on Darren McFadden and he never lived up to the hype. The team hasn’t had a single rusher get back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons since Marcus Allen did it in the mid-80s.
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Predicting Jacobs’ Season
With the retirement of Marshawn Lynch and Martin hurt, nobody seems to be in Josh Jacobs‘ way. The first-round pick out of Alabama was the consensus top running back in the draft and the Raiders picked him up with their second pick in the first round. Jacobs is a dual-threat player and figures to put up strong numbers as a receiver and a rusher. He also received praise from LaDainian Tomlinson, who predicted him to win rookie of the year.
For me, I’m going to say Josh Jacobs [will win offensive rookie of the year] because he’s going to have the opportunities to do so. There’s nobody in that backfield, and he can do it all. Remember what Jon Gruden did with Cadillac Williams his first two years? Cadillac had 300 touches and then followed it up with over 250 touches. Josh will get those same types of opportunities.
That’s lofty praise from one of the best running backs to ever do it. The Raiders’ group of running backs is good, not great so Jacobs should get a lot of work in his rookie season. Three of the last four offensive rookies of the year were running backs and Jacobs has a really great shot to continue that trend. Jon Gruden loves using his runnings backs in a variety of ways so he’s going to get a ton of chances to put up numbers. Don’t be surprised if Jacobs starts strong and cements himself as one of the best running backs in the AFC.