Josh Jacobs flashes athleticism, skill in solid Raiders preseason debut

Josh Jacobs flashes athleticism, skill in solid Raiders preseason debut

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Josh Jacobs got four carries on a six-play Raiders touchdown drive Thursday night. The rookie running back was efficient slashing downhill through the Arizona Cardinals defense, to the tune of 5.3 yards per carry in the Raiders' 33-26 win.

Jacobs completed that sequence dissatisfied. He asked coach Jon Gruden for a few more, but quickly was rebuffed.

The Raiders starting offense got one stellar series Thursday at Glendale's State Farm Stadium before Gruden pulled the plug. Veterans were fine with that. Jacobs, however, was just getting warmed up. Pleas for more time were shut down.

“We’re really excited about him,” Gruden said Thursday. “I wanted to keep him in and he wanted to stay in, but I thought we had seen enough.”

Gruden witnessed a lot of good work.

Jacobs’ first NFL carry went for eight yards. His second and third both went for six, and the offense was off and running. Jacobs has reviewed those three runs, and believes they could’ve been far better.

“I was mad at myself because they should’ve been bigger runs,” Jacobs, who finished with 21 yards on four carries, said Thursday. “It was just knocking off rust, and things like that.”

Rust could've accumulated, considering the Alabama product hasn’t run in a game setting since the NCAA national title game loss to Clemson in January. The Raiders didn’t play Jacobs in the exhibition opener, and it’s possible he’s done for the preseason to preserve health.

He might see more time next week against the Green Bay Packers in Winnipeg, but that remains uncertain.

Jacobs flashed legitimate skill in his runs and role in the passing game, proving to be an elusive runner who doesn’t lose balance on first contact.

His impressive start showed why the Raiders were so high on Jacobs in the NFL draft, and why they’re going to make him a feature back in 2019.

"Josh is a rookie, but he has to play like he isn’t,” quarterback Derek Carr said Thursday. “He’s going to have to play big for us. We lost Marshawn [Lynch]. Doug [Martin] is a [former] 1,500-yard back, an All-Pro. With Josh stepping into the feature back role, he has some pretty big shoes to fill. But I think he can do it.”

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Jacobs wants more touches in practice and preseason games. He wants to be more involved right away, but sees the Raiders' logic in keeping him in bubble wrap until the games actually count.

“I think it speaks volumes on what they think of me and what they see in me,” Jacobs said. “I am just honored to be out here playing football.”

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line


Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

ALAMEDA -- Johnathan Hankins isn’t even 28 years old yet feels like an old man working on the Raiders defensive front. The starting line features two rookies off the edge and a second-year man working next to him inside.

He is an elder statesman in that crew, with plenty of experience in his seventh year out of Ohio State. Hankins is having a blast with a young, developing crew, knowing he must anchor the defensive line and help those around him make plays.

“I’m just trying to do my best to lead the guys,” Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “I’ve been here longer than most of the guys on this unit, and I try to show them what it takes to be a professional and pass along all the information I learned from the veterans I worked with way back when.”

Hankins is paying it forward now with words and action. His role at defensive tackle often helps create opportunities for others pushing the pocket back and shutting down the opposition’s interior run game.

The Raiders are better in that area thanks in large part to Hankins’ improvement within the system and are certainly thankful last year’s in-season signing has become a permanent fixture upfront.

Hankins was in a weird spot before joining the Raiders last year, cut just a year into a big three-year contract with Indianapolis because the Colts changed defensive schemes.

He found a proper fit in Oakland and was happy to re-up with them this offseason.

“There was a lot going on after I got released by the Colts, and I was trying to find a place that fits well with me and finding an organization that wanted me,” Hankins said. “That’s what it boiled to, and it has really worked out with the Raiders.”

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Hankins considers it destiny that he’s Raiders, the same team name he had as a 6-year old running back and kicker growing up in Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. That’s where he grew (quite literally) into the dominant defensive force that earned an Ohio State scholarship and a second-round NFL draft slot.

“I’m just enjoying this ride,” Hankins said. “I’m trying to be at my best and show everyone watching that I’m still one of the best defensive tackles in this league. The goal is to get to 12 years, and I think I’m on my way.”

Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season


Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

ALAMEDA – Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and punctured his lung during a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, a scary situation that put the rest of his season in some jeopardy.

The Raiders couldn’t say for sure if he’d finish out his rookie season, where he made steady progress and ranked high among quarterback Derek Carr’s most reliable targets.

He didn’t play last week against Kansas City and won’t play Sunday against Tennessee at Oakland Coliseum, but could well come back down the stretch.

“We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re going to keep him on the active roster. We’ll do without him for another game or two, and we’re hoping to get him back for the Chargers game [in Week 16]. That’s on our wish list, our hope list right now for Hunter. We miss him.”

Renfrow wasn’t active on Wednesday, according to a practice estimation from the team. The Silver and Black conducted a walk-through session off-site, on a basketball court in Alameda to avoid inclement weather. The focus is teaching and the mental side of the game.

“We have made some adjustments to our roster, so we have gone inside to try to multiply our reps for a lot of people that we have to get ready to play,” Gruden said. “There are pros and cons to everything. I like to get a lot of reps in on Wednesday to teach the game plan and make sure they’re sound in their assignments. It’s not at the same speed, but it’s an important part of learning, especially the changes we have had at several positions.

“I think it has been beneficial. We’ll come out and run fast Thursday and Friday and get ready for the Titans.”

Running back Josh Jacobs was considered out on the team’s practice estimation with a shoulder injury. Right guard Trent Brown was considered a non-participant with a pectoral injury. He has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries in recent weeks.

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Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

NOTE: The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Therefore, the participation report is an estimation.