Las Vegas Raiders working backs the ‘heartbeat’ of the brand new regime’s offensive assault
“The happiest particular person within the constructing needs to be Josh Jacobs. I do know that.” — Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on the workforce’s offensive system underneath new coach Josh McDaniels
HENDERSON, Nev. — Josh McDaniels landed in Las Vegas with the repute of an elite playcaller, one who leans closely on a roster of working backs simply as large as it’s versatile in talent units.
Energy backs? Test.
Go-catching backs? Test once more.
Go-blocking backs? Test thrice.
Certainly, with seven tailbacks and a fullback on the coaching camp roster, it is likely to be an excellent drawback for McDaniels to have in terms of chopping right down to an preliminary 53-man roster.
“It is fairly fascinating,” McDaniels stated this week when requested concerning the depth and variety of the working backs room. “There are some younger guys which can be studying however play actually laborious and provides nice effort. We’ve got some guys which can be form of multifaceted by way of what they do and convey. We have tried to offer all of them totally different alternatives right here within the first few video games to attempt to do a few of these issues.”
Living proof: the (comparatively) heavy workload Jacobs, a Professional Bowler in 2020 and presumptive starter this season, performed within the Corridor of Fame Recreation. Jacobs beginning and getting seven touches (5 carries for 30 yards and two catches for 14 yards) on the primary two sequence raised eyebrows.
Or veteran Kenyan Drake, who’s getting back from a damaged proper ankle, seeing important time in each preseason video games.
“I imply, the proof is within the pudding,” stated Drake, who has carried the ball 9 occasions for twenty-four yards whereas catching two passes for 17 yards mixed, after the Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings within the second preseason sport.
“You see all people on the sector being productive, enjoying in each and any state of affairs — from four-minute with Brittain [Brown] ending it off to the two-back set that we have now, me and Zamir [White] within the first half, after which, clearly, to not point out the [two] different guys that have not performed which can be going to make a huge impact on this workforce, so the sky is the restrict for this room. I really feel like we’ll be the heartbeat of this workforce and we’ll, each sport, go on the market and be the engine.”
By means of two exhibitions, Austin Walter has rushed for a team-high 79 yards with a TD and caught a 3-yard move, whereas White, a fourth-round draft pick of Georgia, has rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries and is tied for the workforce lead with 5 catches for 27 yards.
Brown, a seventh-round decide from UCLA, has rushed for 54 yards and a rating on 14 carries and caught two passes, whereas Ameer Abdullah has 7 dashing yards and a TD (his low-high roundhouse kicks adopted by a twirl kick as an finish zone celebration was a nod to the online game “Tekken” whereas additionally serving as inspiration to the children on “Cobra Kai”) and in addition has two catches for 23 yards.
Curiously, neither of the 2 backs who got here from McDaniels’ previous stomping grounds, the New England Patriots, have performed within the preseason — tailback Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson.
How a lot are you able to really glean, although, from two video games of a preseason for a brand new regime?
Nicely, it has been a reasonably balanced offensive assault this far, with the Raiders passing for a mixed 322 yards on 59 makes an attempt and dashing for 299 yards on 72 carries.
All eight backs survived the primary spherical of cuts, from 90 gamers to 85, this week. The Raiders should get right down to 80 gamers by Tuesday, three days after the exhibition on the Miami Dolphins (7 p.m. ET, Saturday).
“You simply take it at some point at a time,” stated Abdullah, who’s in his first camp with the Raiders after spending seven seasons with the Detroit Lions, Vikings and Carolina Panthers. “That is what my father has all the time informed me — you’ll be able to’t stay an excessive amount of sooner or later, that breeds nervousness. You possibly can’t stay an excessive amount of previously, that breeds melancholy. Simply staying current. Maintaining all the pieces that is proper in entrance of you, which is what you’ll be able to management.”
So what number of backs may McDaniels carry on that preliminary 53-man roster?
He is had as many as 5 in New England. So if that is the case, who is likely to be the odd man out amongst Jacobs, Drake, Bolden, White, Abdullah and Johnson? Reducing Drake would carry an $8 million useless cash cap hit.
As Jacobs stated, the competitors has been “wonderful” in camp.
“I imply, it is enjoyable, man,” stated Jacobs, who’s enjoying for a brand new contract after not having his fifth-year choice picked up. McDaniels downplayed theories that Las Vegas was showcasing Jacobs in Canton for a commerce.
“I am a agency believer of getting a gaggle of men that is able to compete. I imagine that iron sharpens iron, [so] simply to be round them guys that is keen to work day-after-day, that is good or higher in sure areas, and to have the ability to compete with them, it has been enjoyable. Having the ability to are available in, and being a vet now, and being with the rookies and with the ability to move that information alongside, that is what the sport is, that is what the sport is all about.”
And as McDaniels stated, he actually likes this group of backs, and the best way it’s coached by Kennedy Polamalu.
“I’ve all the time been an enormous believer in having as many good backs as you’ll be able to have in your workforce as a result of like I’ve stated earlier than, they get the ball greater than anyone else … aside from the quarterback, and often they’re taking hits and getting contact once they have it,” McDaniels stated. “So, there’s an opportunity for nicks and bumps and bruises and accidents. You simply do not ever need to get caught quick in that space.
“I like what they’re doing. They push each other, they assist each other, they work actually laborious collectively. We have got a number of maturity in that room that continues to attempt to pull guys alongside, particularly the younger guys.”