ALAMEDA – The Raiders announced offensive starters before Sunday’s home opener against the New York Jets.
Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington aren’t in that class. The second-year rushers were headed out to the field with everyone else when Marshawn Lynch halted the advance.
“We were getting ready to go out and he was like ‘Hey, I want you all to come out with me’. I was like, ‘They cool with this?’” Richard said. “He said ‘It doesn’t matter what they say. You boys are coming out with me.’”
It seemed off. This was, after all, Marshawn’s homecoming. A sellout Oakland crowd was waiting to cheer their favorite native son.
Marshawn didn’t care. He wanted the running backs to go out as a unit.
“They’re my (boys),” Lynch said.
Marshawn jogged through a deafening roar, flanked by his protégées.
“That just got me pumped from the get-go,” Richard said. “That just lets you know how much he believes in us, the confidence in us. It makes us play harder.”
The kids have played hard, and listened to Lynch’s sage advice. That’s a requirement in this offense, because Lynch can’t do it alone. Not anymore. Not at age 31.
The Raiders plan to use all three backs in rotation, with Lynch as its lead dog. He carried 18 times in a season opening win at Tennessee. He had 12 in a 45-20 victory over the Jets.
Thus far Lynch has started most games and can close games where the Raiders hold a late lead.
Washington and Richard will have moments in the sun. They generally split remaining touches – unless, like Sunday, Cordarrelle Patterson gets in on the action – to bring a change of pace.
They might also pull a star turn.
Richard did so the Jets, even on Marshawn's big day. Richard registered 109 yards of offense and a touchdown on just eight touches. That included a 52-yard run blocked expertly by tackles Marshall Newhouse and Donald Penn, with Seth Roberts doing dirty work downfield.
“I caught the ball and felt somebody rush up the field,” Richard said. “It made me come inside. The whole week they were telling me to wait rather than get out, so I waited and the Jets overflowed. I put my foot in the ground and creased it. The safety couldn’t see me because I had a blocker, he went this way and I dipped right and then I outran everybody to the end zone and scored. IT was a great blocking play, great game plan play. It was cool.”
Richard also had a 39-yard reception where he took advantage of open space, proving adept finding the right time to turn on the afterburners.
Washington will have his turn making big plays in the backfield, with an efficient track record as a rookie. Lynch has a certain set of skills, able to get tough yards by brute force. The younger guys are game breakers in their own right – Richard proved that Sunday – and will be counted on at times to make the offense go.
“Jalen and DeAndré, they’re both explosive,” quarterback Derek Carr said last week. “We all know that. Really good hands, good route runners, they’re really good in pass protection… I think that with both of those guys in the game, they do similar things, but they give us two options. They give us two fresh bodies so to speak.”