Raiders’ Josh Jacobs is willing to carry the load, and Jon Gruden will let him

It’s up to Derek Carr to distribute the ball like a point guard, but it will be Josh Jacobs taking the shots.

Yes, the Raiders proved they’re willing to push the ball downfield on occasion to rookie Henry Ruggs III in their 34-30 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.

But if you know anything about coach Jon Gruden, there’s a part of him that identifies with the old John McKay line at USC about wearing out opponents using one player as a ball-carrying sledgehammer:

“The ball isn’t heavy, and besides he doesn’t belong to a union.”

Jacobs is in a union, but the only limits placed upon his usage will be his own 5-foot-10, 220-pound body and how it stands up to the pounding of an NFL season.

With one-sixteenth of the precincts reporting, it’s so far, so good.

“I thought about how would I feel after this game,” Jacobs said Wednesday during a zoom conference call. “I feel good. I remember last year I felt like I was in a car crash.”

Jacobs tied his career high set against Chicago in London last season with 29 touches with 25 carries for 93 yards and four receptions for 46 more. He scored three touchdowns, all on runs inside the 10-yard line.

Afterward, in one of those Grudenesque moment of hyperbole, he said, “That was a little bit like Walter Payton used to play.”

That’s Payton, as in the NFL player who amassed 4,430 rushes and receptions in 13 seasons with the Chicago Bears en route to the Hall of Fame. That’s surpassed only by Emmitt Smith, and Payton actually averaged more touches per game, 22.8 to 21.8.

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Jacobs is at 20.8 touches per game in 14 career games and if anything, given Gruden’s plan to involve him more in the receiving game, that figure could go up instead of down.

If the Raiders are the playoff contender they hope to be, Jacobs will carry much of the freight, given he’s averaged 24.9 touches in the seven games they’ve won in which he’s played.

Jacobs was never a fulltime back at Alabama, sharing the load with both Damien Harris and Najee Harris. It was a bit of a gamble to make him a bell cow back with the No. 24 pick in the 2019 draft in an era where NFL teams often go to tandem backs because of the brutal attrition of the position.

Jacobs fractured a shoulder in the sixth game of the season as a rookie but played on through 13 games, rushing for 1,150 yards. He now has a better idea of how to prepare for an NFL season, hence the way Jacobs felt after the Carolina game in contrast to the 24-carry, one recepton debut a year earlier against Denver.

Not that Jacobs didn’t wake up a little sore Monday.

“It’s football. I can’t remember when I went into a game fully fresh, no nicks, no bruises,” Jacobs said. “It comes with the game. It’s all mental, really. Like when you’re feeling hurt or whatever, your mind puts you at …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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