Raiders’ Josh Jacobs Dealing With ‘Rust,’ but Big Runs Are ‘Really Close’

Josh Jacobs, Raiders star running back

Getty Josh Jacobs, Raiders star running back

All in all, it was an odd day by the standards of Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who led the NFL in rushing yards last year with 1,653 and had the highest per-game average, at 97.2. He tallied just 48 yards in the win over Denver, taking 19 carries and registering a long run of only seven yards.

Not typical for Jacobs, to be sure. Especially not against Denver, against which Jacobs piled on 253 rushing yards on 52 carries last season in two games.

But Jacobs is not much worried about the low production from the ground game. There were several reasons behind it—most prominent of which was his own conditioning. Jacobs was a contract holdout for nearly all of training camp this summer, and did not finally agree to a deal with the Raiders until August 26.

Jacobs said getting up to game speed will make a massive difference. He admitted he was winded at times, but that was because the Raiders were playing at elevation in Denver.

“We had a lot of runs that was really close. It’s just the small details,” Jacobs said, via “Not only that, man, I’ve got to knock the rust off, too. It was a few plays where I felt like I tripped up a little bit. Plays that I knew I could have made or reads that I was kind of a little late on. It’s going to come with me, man, working at practice and, you know, trying to get that back with not being here in the offseason.”

Broncos Zeroed in on Jacobs

It did not help matters that Denver coach Sean Payton made no bones about packing the box against Jacobs to prevent hi from breaking big runs. Payton commented on making Jacobs the focus of the Denver defense throughout the previous week.

“Our plan defensively is, here are the key players,” Payton said before Week 1. “He certainly is one of the more dominant running backs in the NFL, so that’s how we’ll approach the game.”

The Broncos did not disappoint there.

“Just knowing how much their head coach respects me, I knew that was going to be the game plan,” Jacobs said. “That’s all I heard all week coming out of their camp.  It is what it is. At the end of the day, I like, I trust and believe in the guys that we’ve got around, the receivers and the quarterback, the O-line. If I’m having a bad game or if it’s not a running game, then we can still come out and pull out a win.”

That was the most encouraging part of Sunday’s game for the Raiders—they were not at all smooth on the offensive end, but the defense played well and the team executed down the stretch behind quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Late-game execution crushed the Raiders last season, when the team lost nine one-score games.

“We were fighting through adversity the whole time,” Jacobs said. “We were saying, ‘We’re playing this bad but we’re still in the game.’ That’s a testament to who we are, and the adversity, the guys being willing to put in the work.”

Bills Struggled to Stop Jets Run Game

If Jacobs wants to keep kicking off the rust, he will get a good chance to do it in Week 2, as the Raiders take on the Bills. On Monday night in New York, the Bills saw star quarterback Aaron Rodgers go down on the opening series, and even with the focus turned toward the running game, Buffalo still allowed 172 rushing yards to the Jets.

That ranked as fourth-worst in the NFL in Week 1.

Jacobs will, perhaps, have his feet underneath him a bit more, and hopefully be able to tke advantage. He is eager to do so. Last week, he was supposed to be on a limited snap count, but wound up playing on 47 offensive snaps.

He just would not let the Raiders take him off the field.

“I wasn’t really supposed to play this much but I am just kind of a competitor, man, I just get in that mode,” Jacobs said, “they be trying to come in and I just don’t look back to the sidelines. That’s kind of what it was.”

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