Running back Josh Jacobs was a bright spot for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2019. He was a focal point of their offense and was a runner up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. However, he missed three games with a shoulder injury. If the Silver and Black want to keep the sophomore healthy, they will need a competent backup behind him. That’s were Devontae Booker comes in.
The Raiders needed depth at running back and it seems like they got it
Jacobs had 242 carries for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns last season. That’s not too much of a load for a running back, but he still missed three games. Teams can’t control injuries, but they can prepare for them and be ready in case they strike. Whenever the rookie was absent, DeAndre Washington took his place. The now Kansas City Chief running back had 108 carries for 387 yards in 2019. The Raiders thought they could upgrade the position and did not re-sign him once his contract expired.
The Raiders also have Jalen Richard on the roster but he seems to be better suited for a third-down kind of back. For that reason, they inked Booker once this year’s draft came and went. Originally an afterthought, he played well in training camp and made it difficult for the team’s brass to part ways with him. Once the Silver and Black sent 2020’s third-round pick Lynn Bowden Jr. to Miami, Booker’s spot with the team became pretty much guaranteed.
Theo Riddick gave Booker a fight, but in the end, the former ended up in the practice squad while the latter made the Raiders final 53-man roster. Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of 2016’s draft, Booker’s carries went down every year since his rookie year. Nevertheless, the Raiders saw enough of him this past training camp and felt comfortable enough that they kept him.
Devontae Booker wasted no time making the most of his opportunity
In his latest press conference, Booker says his ability to grasp the Raiders playbook may’ve helped him survive roster cutdown day.
“I guess me picking up the playbook as quick as I can. Coach Gruden’s playbook is kind of hard to grasp for new players and stuff. It’s a lot, but I came in here prepared from day 1 and was focused on getting that done and it just translated onto the field to help me play fast. I guess that’s what they’ve seen.”
Booker says the Raiders were a good match for him. That’s why he signed with them after the draft.
“When I signed here after the draft, I felt like it was a good opportunity for me. To get here and work with these guys in the running back room. As you see, it paid off, just me coming here, working my butt off. Us not really having a full offseason, it says a lot about my work ethic. Me coming here, being this whole month of training camp working my tail off like I said before.”
One thing that might’ve helped Booker make survive roster cutdown day was that he plays special teams. Backup running backs carry value when they can play on special teams, and Booker played snaps there even though he had to ‘get a taste for it’ first.
“It was something I had to get a taste for. I’d never really done it at no point in my career and playing ball. I really take pride in doing that as it came along for me. I just continue to just stay there and have fun and do it. That’s about it.”
The Raiders head into Week 1 with an improved wide receiver corps. That doesn’t mean they have to overlook the running game. Josh Jacobs will be their workhorse, but Booker will be behind him and ready to take the field whenever he gets his name called.
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