Raiders

Raiders

OAKLAND -- Antonio Brown was the marquee name of the Raiders' offseason of change. The name that went up in bright lights to signal this season would be different. 

But Brown was far from the only offensive weapon that Raiders coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock brought in to give the offensive unit a facelift. 

With Brown gone, strapped to a social-media-powered rocket with a one-way ticket to New England, the Raiders had to lean on some of the "other" acquisitions in their 24-16 season-opening win over the Denver Broncos on Monday night. 

Raiders fans and the NFL should get acquainted with the name Josh Jacobs. He's Exhibit A. 

The rookie running back was taken with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and tabbed with being the bell cow for the Raiders' offense for the foreseeable future. A powerful runner with limited wear on his tires, Jacobs is a do-it-all back whom Gruden was excited to unleash on the rest of the NFL. 

He was unleashed in full on the Broncos. 

Jacobs reminded people why he was so highly coveted Monday night, as the Alabama product rushed for 85 yards on 23 carries and found the end zone twice, the first time by way of a goal-line leap. He also added one catch for 28 yards, making him the first running back to notch over 100 yards from scrimmage and score two touchdowns in his NFL debut since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 2001. 

 

"It's huge -- I mean, I just found that out," Jacobs said when asked about his NFL milestone debut. "I looked up to him. That's my favorite running back of all time. Just to be mentioned with him, that's a blessing. That's very humbling."

Jacobs' numbers don't do his running justice. He was quick, powerful, showed great vision and rewarded the Raiders and Gruden for putting faith in him to be the Silver and Black's franchise back. Jacobs was pleased with his debut, but there were certain aspects of his game that he wished he could have showcased, and he knows he "left some yards out there."

"It's just me putting my eyes in the right place," Jacobs said. "Not only that, just being patient. I was patient on a lot of runs, but they was doing a slot of slants and things like that, and just taking it the extra step would be huge for me.

"Just going in and looking at myself and doing film study, that's the way to improve. The biggest thing is just trying to get better every day and just the want-to."

Without Brown, many thought the Raiders' offense would go back to the punchless unit they trotted out last season. That was not the case.

Led by Jacobs' big debut and an impressive night from quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders racked up 357 yards of offense on Vic Fangio's Broncos defense, proving what Jacobs knew all along: Oakland's offense will be just fine without the self-proclaimed Mr. Big Chest.

"It just comes from practicing and playing with each other," Jacobs said about the confidence in the offense without Brown. "We scrimmaged against the Rams and all of that, and he wasn't with us. So, we was doing all of that as a unit. Like I tell people, it wasn't really that big of a deal for the guys on the inside.

"Obviously, he's a great player. He's a top-10 wide receiver forever, but at the same time, we got guys that can play, too."

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Brown's social-media meltdown and subsequent release could have left the Raiders reeling. Instead, they went out and rolled over an AFC West opponent in Week 1 like no one was missing. 

Because no one notable was. At least not to them.