Once college teammates, Josh Jacobs and Henry Ruggs III share a common trajectory to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Las Vegas Raiders have set up both Jacobs and Ruggs as future foundational pieces for the team. In his rookie campaign, Jacobs proved capable of carrying the offense and will look to build on that. Ruggs, one of the Raiders’ 2020 first-round picks, is expected to profoundly change the offense.
What’s interesting is their shared history and how their paths have once again crossed with the Raiders. Going back to their Alabama days, both players were not the featured ones at their respective positions. That ultimately translated into fresher legs for the running back. Despite a shoulder injury last year, the sophomore still has relatively “low miles.” Even though he wasn’t a traditional “number one receiver” at Alabama, Ruggs is much more than that. His speed will spread the offense and keep defenses humble, if this materializes, his selection will have been warranted.
“He always kept it real with me…”
Speaking on a video conference call earlier this week, Ruggs elaborated on his relationship with the star running back. Particularly speaking on their Alabama days, Scott Bair of NBC Sports shared Ruggs’ words, “He always kept it real with me and told me what I needed to do and the right mindset to have [at Alabama]. When he was here we had a little contact. He knows what I can do, and he told me to come in [to the Raiders] with the same mindset, put my head down and work.”
As the Raiders continue their rebuild, it’s clear the culture has shifted. Quality players with the right attitude and team-first mentality are being assembled by general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden. In a unique offseason, the familiarity between Jacobs and Ruggs means a bond already exists, which will go a long way towards building offensive chemistry.
Fans saw last year that Jacobs wants to whatever is within his power to help this team win. Playing through pain in his shoulder for most of the season is indicative of that. So far, judging from Ruggs’ words, he too is going to do the same, “I’m out here to do a job, and that’s to help the team win... As far as the dirty work and the things people usually don’t notice, I don’t mind doing it. It’s just part of being a team player.”
Even though the 2020 NFL season has yet to kickoff, the Raiders appear to have their one-two-punch.
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*Top Photo: Steve Flynn/USA TODAY Sports