WATFORD, England -- Josh Jacobs is an early favorite to be this year’s offensive rookie of the year.

Jacksonville quarterback Gardner Minshew might give the Raiders feature back a run for his money, but it could be a close race down the stretch.

While Minshew’s late-game heroics and Magnum, P.I. cool have made him popular, Jacobs has shown less but just as much effectiveness. Albeit, in a less flashy way.

Jacobs has gained respect in his locker room and across the league for how he plays, with the offense in its current state, Jacobs should become the offensive centerpiece and chief producer.

That will give him opportunities required to win the award at season’s end. Jacobs isn’t deaf to the hype surrounding him, but he isn’t honed on it much.

“It’s good to feel like you’re getting recognition,” Jacobs said Thursday after Raiders practice in the United Kingdom. “It really doesn’t make me feel any different. I still feel like there’s a lot more I can do, and that there have been a lot of yards left on the field. I’m not really satisfied with what I’ve done so far. We’re really just trying to win games.”

The Raiders have won games where Jacobs is a workhorse. The Silver and Black are at their best when the offense is balanced, possibly shaded toward an increasingly efficient ground game.

Jacobs is proving slippery in traffic as this excellent Brian Baldinger Breakdown will show.


Offensive coordinator Greg Olson pondered why he’s so effective in traffic.

“He’s what we consider a heavy runner,” Olson said. “Very rarely, when you saw him in college, and when you see him now, and he hits a pile does he get knocked backwards. The pile usually moves forward, so he runs heavy. Again, if you look at his build and see he’s thick boned and plays with a low center of gravity. He’s also got tremendous vision and that’s part of the reason. You’re looking at a guy that played at Alabama, it’s one of the premier college programs in our country, you know he’s got a great set of skills as a running back.

“I think the way that he’s built, he’s built to be an NFL back, which you need to be durable to play because of the length of the schedule that we play, and that’s part of evaluating college running backs. Is he a guy that can be a durable running back and last in this league and we thought he would be, and certainly he hasn’t disappointed us.”

Jacobs is happy to start fast, but he’s not surprised by his early production. He’s supremely confident, even going up against an excellent Bears defensive front.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Jacobs said. “I’m interested to see how I measure up against the best defensive front in the league.”

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Jacobs also says he doesn’t think about Raiders rookie records he’s breaking most every year, the calls for him to get more involved in the passing game or his steady production even in tight spaces, runs that may not be flashy but keep the offense on schedule.

“During camp, I knew I was going to have a certain role on the team, and I just want to do my assignments well,” Jacobs said. “There are a lot of things, honestly. It’s about the offensive line creating little windows for me to sneak through. You just have to trust what you’re seeing and make smart choices. Any play can be a big play. That’s my mentality.”