NAPA – Josh Jacobs looked darn good in his NFL preseason debut. The rookie running back gained 20 yards on his first three carries, slicing his way into open space with relative ease.
There were a few aspects quarterback Derek Carr liked best about Jacobs’ performance after seeing it live and again on tape.
“He was really good, right?” Carr said. “His vision was just … I’ve handed the ball to a lot of good backs, from [Maurice Jones-Drew, Darren McFadden, Latavius Murray, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin], and watching his vision was really impressive. I have the best seat in the house, in the backfield playing ‘Madden’ telling him to cut back and trying to run for him. For him to do that right in his first game was impressive. What rubbed off on me the most about Josh was his want to. He was out there trying to bully people and run hard. He was trying to prove that he’s the best back in the NFL. That’s his mindset. I was really impressed with his demeanor and his mentality.”
Jacobs is a quiet sort, purposely eluding the “Hard Knocks” cameras like they’re would-be tacklers. His game, authority in the huddle and work ethic have stood out during camp. His game performance, all four carries of it, validated kind words about him.
He wasn’t active in the passing game, but the Raiders believe he can be a high-functioning member of the air attack as well.
“He’s very advanced,” Carr said. “Everyone knows that you have to be really good in the passing game, as a running back, to play in [head coach] Jon Gruden’s offense. A lot of our quick game involves our backs. He has to be able to do that, and he can. We knew how good of a runner he was, that he was tough and that he could block. You just never know with rookies who are that big … Are they flexible enough? Can they catch? Josh can do all that stuff. He has really been impressive.”
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Jacobs is certainly capable of being a three-down back. That doesn’t mean he never will leave the field offensively. Gruden likes using multiple backs and could still find carry volume for several guys. It seems likely that Jalen Richard will play a significant role moving forward, even if Jacobs continues to impress. The Raiders still are trying to decide how they’ll use that position group.
“We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet, with turning the whole enchilada over to Josh or not,” Gruden said. “We feel like Richard is very special to us. DeAndre Washington’s healthy, and he has had a great camp. In the past, we’ve used two halfbacks at a time. We’ve used three backs in a game together. The question is, how many backs will we keep? That will be a challenge for us.”