Wide receiver Henry Ruggs III suited up for the Las Vegas Raiders’ Week 2 contest against the New Orleans Saints. Although he didn’t have a big stat line, he ended up contributing in a way many did not expect.
The Raiders rookies have had an impact that doesn’t show in the stat sheet
Ruggs and fellow rookie wide receiver Bryan Edwards have remained somewhat quiet for the start of the 2020 season. Ruggs found himself heavily involved in the first half of the Raiders Week 1 match versus the Panthers. Alas, he left early in the game with a knee injury and didn’t see the field even though he returned. Meanwhile, Edwards hauled in one pass for nine yards en route to the team’s first win of the year.
With Ruggs active for the Saints game, fans wanted ’11’ to get his hands on the ball frequently and efficiently. Instead, he logged a total of four yards on one completion on 49 snaps on offense. On the other hand, Edwards totaled 42 yards on two completions on the same number of snaps. That’s not exactly the blockbuster night fans and analysts envisioned from Ruggs.
This lack of yardage however was not the only storyline involving the rookies. One of the first passing plays attempted was a deep ball to Ruggs that quarterback Derek Carr overthrew deep into the endzone. Edwards caught a pass in the middle and made a large gain on a 2nd-and-6 to get into Saints territory. Edwards made another completion where he was in man coverage. He showed athleticism and aggression in catching the football over the defensive back.
Ruggs’ most impactful play came late in the game where he was running deep on a third down with cornerback Janoris Jenkins on his heels. The pass was overthrown and likely would not have resulted in a completion. However, Jenkins booked his arm around Ruggs’ and the flags went flying. The pass interference penalty helped secure a much needed first down for the Raiders. The Saints ended up with 129 total yards in penalties in their 24-34 loss.
What was apparent in this game was that Carr thrives with receivers he is comfortable and familiar with. The quarterback threw to a committee of receivers but he heavily targeted tight end Darren Waller and second-year slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Sophomore running back Josh Jacobs was also heavily involved in the passing game. More time on the practice field with Ruggs and Edwards will assist with their timing and Carr’s knowledge of their limitations will expand. Later in the season, we will likely see the rookies become more involved in the passing game and meet the expectations of their coaches and fans.
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Top Photo: Isaac Brekken/Associated Press