Raiders News: Josh Jacobs still out; Zamir White, or Ameer Abdullah at RB1?

Youth vs. Experience: Should Zamir White or Ameer Abdullah Handle RB1 Duties In Josh Jacobs’ Absence?

While Raider Nation continues to refresh their notifications for any semblance of an update on Josh Jacobs’ holdout situation, the Silver and Black are taking it day by day as they run through training camp. That means that until the NFL’s reigning rushing leader steps foot back onto the field, the Las Vegas Raiders are tasked with finding the right solution in his absence. It comes down to a simple matter: who should carry the load for now with preseason quickly approaching? Should it be Zamir White or Ameer Abdullah?

So, what do the Raiders do in Josh Jacobs’ stead?

Actualizing the “right solution” necessitates answering an age-old question: do you go with youth or experience?

According to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur, second-year running back Zamir White saw most of the action with the team’s first team during last Tuesday’s practice. White is joined by veteran Ameer Abdullah as the two tailbacks behind Jacobs on the depth chart.

“With Josh Jacobs still away from the team, Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah split time as the starting running backs. White took most of the carries, and Abdullah was called upon more in pass-catching situations. The Raiders are expected to take a by-committee approach to the position as long as Jacobs remains unsigned, but, ideally, White will be able to separate himself.”

A committee approach feels like the safest solution. Actually, it arguably falls in line with the offensive methodology Josh McDaniels has previously employed. It worked out great during his days with the New England Patriots. Still, ahead of a pivotal 2023 season in which McDaniels has to show some return on value in his second year at the helm, a case could be made for opting for experience versus future upside.

What does Zamir White bring to the table?

White comes in with less wear and tear on the tires. Naturally, that gives him an added advantage in this debate. He logged 17 carries last season for 70 yards with an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. He’s a proven workhorse at the college level, which is noteworthy. Raiders fans can only hope his production at Georgia will translate to the NFL: 2,043 yards with 25 touchdowns and an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

In his final season with the Bulldogs, he finished with an 87.5 overall offense grade, per Pro Football Focus. On the surface, White should lead the way in trying to fill the volume voided by Jacobs’ absence.

However, Abdullah brings a pass-catching prowess in the backfield that would not only benefit McDaniels’ offensive game plan but would also work to the advantage of new starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

How does the movement at running back affect Jimmy Garoppolo?

It’s no secret that Garoppolo does his best work near the middle of the field. Yes, no deep balls from Garoppolo. At least not the way that maybe the late Al Davis would’ve wanted.

According to PFF’s passing depth breakdown, Garoppolo attempted the most passes (97) between the numbers and within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He went 73-for-97 with a passer rating of 109.6. Having a tailback like Abdullah, who finished fourth among all Raiders last season with a 78.1 catch percentage, could help unlock the middle of the field for Garoppolo.

The caveat for Abdullah, of course, is that he’s 29 years old and has 10 years’ worth of mileage. That’s a lot for a running back these days. It’s quite the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to a running back’s shelf life in today’s NFL. Considering his value in the passing game, keeping him healthy for the long haul of the season is paramount. It’s not a shot at Abdullah, but his days of shouldering the bulk of the carries may be long behind him.

There’s a flipside to this…

Abdullah’s pass-catching skillset is indeed an X-factor for Garoppolo’s helming of the offense. Conversely, it’s safe to say that White’s youth, coupled with his upside, makes him a more viable candidate to be the temporary RB1 for the Raiders. Las Vegas will surely take a by-committee approach; McDaniels nearly did so last season. That was until Josh Jacobs picked up the ball and ran with it, literally.

When it comes to needing a workhorse in the backfield, White should be considered the leading candidate until Jacobs, presumably, ends his holdout and returns to the field.

*Top Photo: KSL Sports/Getty

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