Las Vegas Raiders operating 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 group’s offensive system beneath new coach Josh McDaniels

HENDERSON, Nev. — Josh McDaniels landed in Las Vegas with the popularity of an elite playcaller, one who leans closely on a roster of operating backs simply as large as it’s versatile in talent units.

Energy backs? Verify.

Move-catching backs? Verify once more.

Move-blocking backs? Verify thrice.

Certainly, with seven tailbacks and a fullback on the coaching camp roster, it is likely to be an excellent downside for McDaniels to have in the case of chopping right down to an preliminary 53-man roster.

“It is fairly attention-grabbing,” McDaniels mentioned this week when requested in regards to the depth and variety of the operating backs room. “There are some younger guys which might be studying however play actually onerous and provides nice effort. Now we have some guys which might be form of multifaceted when it comes to what they do and produce. We have tried to provide all of them totally different alternatives right here within the first few video games to attempt to do a few of these issues.”

Working example: the (comparatively) heavy workload Jacobs, a Professional Bowler in 2020 and presumptive starter this season, performed within the Corridor of Fame Sport. Jacobs beginning and getting seven touches (5 carries for 30 yards and two catches for 14 yards) on the primary two collection raised eyebrows.

Or veteran Kenyan Drake, who’s coming back from a damaged proper ankle, seeing important time in each preseason video games.

“I imply, the proof is within the pudding,” mentioned 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 everyone on the sphere being productive, taking part in 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 might be going to make a huge impact on this group, so the sky is the restrict for this room. I really feel like we’ll be the heartbeat of this group and we’ll, each sport, go on the market and be the engine.”

By 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 group 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 speeding 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 youngsters 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 actually 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 speeding 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 someday at a time,” mentioned 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 at all times informed me — you may’t dwell an excessive amount of sooner or later, that breeds nervousness. You possibly can’t dwell an excessive amount of previously, that breeds despair. Simply staying current. Holding all the pieces that is proper in entrance of you, which is what you may management.”

So what number of backs would possibly 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 lifeless cash cap hit.

As Jacobs mentioned, the competitors has been “wonderful” in camp.

“I imply, it is enjoyable, man,” mentioned Jacobs, who’s taking part in for a brand new contract after not having his fifth-year possibility 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 consider that iron sharpens iron, [so] simply to be round them guys that is prepared to work daily, 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 data alongside, that is what the sport is, that is what the sport is all about.”

And as McDaniels mentioned, he actually likes this group of backs, and the best way it’s coached by Kennedy Polamalu.

“I’ve at all times been a giant believer in having as many good backs as you may have in your group as a result of like I’ve mentioned 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 mentioned. “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 onerous collectively. We have loads of maturity in that room that continues to attempt to pull guys alongside, particularly the younger guys.”