Jalen Richard, running back for the Oakland Raiders, has a bright future with the team including a role that’s expected to grow running the ball behind Marshawn Lynch. Showing maturity beyond his years, however, it seems Richard is taking it upon himself to set an example for the lesser known players to find a place on his team.
In a recently published report by Scott Bair of CSN Sports Bay Area, Bair mentioned that Richard had become somewhat of a mentor to the undrafted players who hope that after continuing to work they can scratch the surface and hopefully land a spot on the team. A team that many experts believe has a legitimate shot at competing for a Super Bowl spot.
“I grabbed that position since the first day I got here,” Richard said. “Guys have come up and talked to me on their own asking me about my situation coming in undrafted. They’re trying to figure out if there’s a spot and not getting many reps in practice can be aggravating, and I sit there and talk to them and tell them I went through the same things last year. Every opportunity you do get, try to be seen and make them keep looking.
“I learned quickly that, as long as you can make plays, you’ll have a job. They’re looking for playmakers who fly around. If you do that, you force their hand. I took on that (advisory) role as soon as I got here.”
– Richard on his journey as an undrafted player and the example he sets for others
It seems that old saying of “hard work pays off” is something that can sum up Richard’s work ethic but more than that though it is his patience that has paid off even more. Patience you say? Richard said it himself, “Every opportunity you do get, try to be seen and make them keep looking.” The opportunities have to be scarce with such depth on this team, and Richard is no stranger to that as he had to fend off the likes of Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington last training camp. However, when he did get those chances he took full advantage after impressing in training camp; his 5.9 yards per rush average last season is indicative of factors such as timing, natural talent, and opportunity beautifully coming together.
The “Beast Mode” coverage has largely dominated this year’s camp, but that should bode well for the many undrafted rookies on this squad. Players such as Ishmael Zamora, Keon Hatcher, and to a certain extent even Elijah Hood who went in the 7th round would be wise to learn from a de facto coach on offense in Richard.
Even on defense, the players share the sentiments of Richard, as rookie cornerback Breon Borders said, “That’s 100 percent my focus,” Borders said. “I want to make the team, and make the team better. And as an undrafted guy, you have to make sure you get to know the special teams coach. You go 100 percent on every rep. That’s how you get noticed.”
However, just like Richard explained, you have to show the coaching staff that you can contribute in any way, whether it is catching passes out of the backfield or help on the return team. Furthermore, through that sheer determination, it now seems Richard will now be an integral part of this offense led by quarterback Derek Carr, not bad for a kid from Southern Miss by way of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.