One of the biggest strengths for the Las Vegas Raiders with training camp converging soon is the running game.
For years, the running back position has been devoid of a true star for the Raiders. All that changed last year when general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden selected Josh Jacobs by way of the University of Alabama. Instantly, there was something special about Jacobs and the way he ran the ball and rejuvenated the offense. Without question, the sophomore will look to build on his 2019 debut with camp soon commencing.
Heading to camp this year, the Raiders brought back veteran Jalen Richard, who’s a key cog in Gruden’s offense. You also have veteran Devontae Booker joining in on the fun after spending the last four years with the Denver Broncos. The other running back is a wild card, or rather, a “Joker”: Rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. Paving the way for this stable of running backs will be 2019 rookie Alec Ingold, who emerged as the fullback of the future.
Raiders Running Back Shuffle
Barring a camp injury or a setback in Jacob’s recovery from his 2019 injuries, he’ll surface as the starter. The rest of the stable and how it’ll be utilized will determine how the depth chart ends up looking. The newest member, Booker, has played in 61 games while rushing for 1,103 yards and reaching the end zone six times. He was also used in Denver’s passing game, targeted 143 times and coming down with 105 receptions. This versatility should help Booker make it out of camp.
Speaking of versatility, this is why Richard is still with the Raiders. The veteran’s use in the passing game, helped him secure a return to the Silver and Black. In the last two years, Richard has been targeted 124 times, catching 107 of quarterback Derek Carr’s passes. Richard’s rushing numbers took a sharp decline as he only amassed 145 rushing yards. His familiarity with Carr and Gruden will serve him well in 2020 with the offense looking to become more balanced, not to mention he should see snaps in relief of Jacobs.
The New Guy For The Raiders
Besides Jacobs, another reason for excitement is the addition of Bowden and his flexibility. Officially listed as a running back, Bowden will give this Raiders offense another dimension, assuming he’s used correctly by Gruden. He can literally do it all, running back, wide receiver, and quarterback. Bowden could even see plays in the slot or as a tight end if Gruden really wants to throw a curveball at defenses. Whether the team walks out with four running backs after camp is a legitimate question. It’s entirely possible one of these players doesn’t make the cut, unfortunately, that could be Booker. Simply an opinion, but Booker’s lack of familiarity with Gruden’s offense combined with this rare offseason could lead to a cut.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee USA TODAY Sports