Josh Jacobs never has steered Henry Ruggs III wrong. The running back’s advice always rang true during their years together at the University of Alabama, so the new Raiders receiver went right back to his old friend for the best way to make a solid impression on the Silver and Black.
Jacobs was, as always, direct and to the point.
“He always kept it real with me and told me what I needed to do and the right mindset to have [at Alabama],” Ruggs said during a Thursday video conference. “When he was here we had a little contact. He knows what I can do, and he told me to come in [to the Raiders] with the same mindset, put my head down and work.”
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Jacobs knows what he’s talking about. He wasn’t Alabama’s featured player at his position, yet the Raiders still made him the first back off the board at No. 24 overall. He arrived with confidence, tenacity and unmistakable talent that allowed him to flourish in his rookie campaign.
Ruggs plans to follow a parallel path. He wasn’t the Crimson Tide’s true No. 1 receiver, yet the Raiders still made him the first receiver off the board at No. 12 overall. He arrives with confidence, tenacity and unmistakable talent that he hopes will help him flourish wearing silver and black.
Jacobs’ simple strategy worked once. Ruggs believes it can work again. He’s set on making an indelible first impression in his Raiders camp debut, one that gives coaches and quarterback Derek Carr confidence he can make a profound, instant impact.
He wasn’t able to do that much during the offseason. He suffered a thigh injury that prevented him from joining Carr’s player-exclusive workouts in the Las Vegas area, but he was able to participate a bit in recent weeks.
“I had the mishap with my leg so I wasn’t able to get in as many as I wanted to,” Ruggs said. "I was here for two weeks at separate times. I got in when I could, and the times that I couldn’t work out I tagged along and watched.
“I got ahead on the installs and doing things on the field really helped us out, made us more prepared and things like that.”
Ruggs’ injury has healed to the point he feels like himself, “maybe even better.” He’s fully ready to go for Raiders training camp, which already has started for quarterbacks, rookies and injured players who registered two negative coronavirus tests.
“He’s a guy who is not afraid to call me to see if I have a question before we can even think twice,” Ruggs said. “He’s making sure that guys are on top of everything. If we want to come in early, he’s open to that. If we want to go over to the house to do something extra, he’ll do that. He’s a great leader and a great teammate. He’s somebody that I can lean on for anything.”
Ruggs adds a dynamic element to the passing game but, heeding Jacobs’ advice, he wants to prove a willingness to put his head down and do the dirty work required to help the Raiders succeed.
“I’m out here to do a job, and that’s to help the team win,” Ruggs said. “If I have to block or just run down the field so a defender will look at me, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m 100 percent for the team and I’m going to do whatever the coach calls. As far as the dirty work and the things people usually don’t notice, I don’t mind doing it. It’s just part of being a team player.”