Las Vegas Raiders: Rookie Performance Tracker Josh Jacobs Zamir White

Raiders RB Zamir White Stock Watch (Preseason Week 1): A Physical Force with Clear Limitations

The Las Vegas Raiders remain undefeated (5-0) in the Josh McDaniels-era courtesy of their 34-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. A strong debut from rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell (15-for-18, 141 yards, one touchdown), as well as an inspired effort from the defense (4 sacks, 1 fumble, 1 interception), will likely dominate the headlines. But don’t let a solid performance from second-year man Zamir White slip through the cracks.

The preseason is, after all, just the preseason, and the enemy of analytics will always be a small sample size. But what we saw out of White on Sunday could be a precursor to how the former Georgia Bulldog can add another layer to the Raiders’ offense in the backfield.

Tale Of The Tape: Raiders RB Zamir White

Zamir White got the starting nod in the Raiders’ preseason opener against the 49ers, finishing with 13 carries for 43 yards, one rushing touchdown, and an average of 3.3 yards per carry. White’s longest run of the day came on a nine-yard run, and his contributions started as early as Las Vegas’ first offensive drive. Josh McDaniels fed the second-year tailback with seven carries for 28 yards, eventually capping off the drive by finding the end zone.

Positives

White’s physical style of running the ball, coupled with his patience at the line of scrimmage, should have fans excited for a likely-elevated role this season. On the opening drive that put the Silver and Black up 7-0, he dissected when to run through the holes as the offensive line opened them up. That tolerance should serve him well as the Raiders look to establish the tempo with their ground game being the heartbeat of the offense.

Negatives

White was on the losing end of a stop by the 49ers’ defense on fourth-and-short, which speaks to how the second-year man will need to expand his vision at the line of scrimmage. Although the Georgia alum knows when to run through created holes, he can’t always locate space when a clear hole hasn’t been made for him. More reps in real-game situations will aid him in that objective, and as he continues to go up against tougher and more sophisticated defenses. The learning curve that he’ll face in year two should only get smaller.

Don’t let us spell it out for you; leave it to the young man himself to stay grounded following the preseason opener. As he echoed in the postgame, “Alright, we could have done better.” You have to commend the second-year man for taking “Commitment to Excellence” to heart.

While it’s an unfair comparison to make (in the preseason, no less), it’s key to remember that, were it a regular season game where the Raiders found themselves on a fourth-and-short, the odds are slim that it would be White lining up in the backfield. Those duties are reserved for the NFL’s reigning rushing leader, Josh Jacobs, who, after one game in the preseason, remains one of the key components for Las Vegas’ offense to succeed.

Future Outlook For The Raiders’ Youngster

On that note; are the Raiders ready to rescind Josh Jacobs’ franchise tag and proclaim White as the running back of the future? Say it with me now: absolutely not! If Las Vegas wants this offense to reach its full potential, they surely need Jacobs back in tow. That said, the team should be excited about how White’s encouraging performance in the preseason opener adds another layer to the ground game. It should be to the delight of McDaniels, at least.

Jacobs’ endurance and sheer toughness last year propelled him to start in all 17 games in the regular season – a first in his four-year career. You can be an optimist or a pessimist, but I’m erring on the side of caution as to whether Jacobs can log back-to-back 17-game seasons. He is a running back, after all, and he’ll be entering his fifth season with more wear and tear on those tires. The right solution is to give him some help shouldering the load.

With Zamir White equipped to take on an elevated role in 2023, that should allow McDaniels to leverage both him and Ameer Abdullah in a true running back-by-committee approach. White’s patience at the line of scrimmage and his physical style of carrying the ball should make him a clear candidate to be the team’s RB2. But, just to be safe, look for the next few weeks of the preseason to justify that belief.

*Top Photo: CBS Sports

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