By John Newby
The Oakland Raiders first-round running back is on the field for his team.
Last week, the Silver and Black opened Organized Team Activities (OTA), getting the entire team together for three days of practice. With only one session open to media members, news quickly began leaking out on Tuesday, May 28th, about which players were active and which were absent. Obviously, the biggest story was that wide receiver Antonio Brown wasn’t in the building for the first session of OTAs. The former Steelers receiver was working out on his own and did ultimately return to the building on Wednesday, but that didn’t prevent the outpouring of criticism.
However, there was actually a bigger story to observe during the first week of OTAs and that was the lack of Josh Jacobs. The first-round running back had appeared on the field initially for some light stretching, but he went back into the building and wasn’t seen for the rest of the day. There were obvious concerns about his overall health, especially considering that head coach Jon Gruden didn’t provide any information other than that Jacobs was on his own path.
Well, the worries can now be put to rest. Jacobs was on the field with his team on Tuesday for the second week of OTAs, and he was seen running routes, catching passes, and going through drills with the rest of the offense. According to Vic Tafur of “The Athletic,” Jacobs was held out last week due to a tweaked hamstring, but he is back to work at full capacity.
His return was critical for the Raiders considering that he is a rookie and has to quickly grow into his role with the team. Sure, these are OTAs and are less critical than training camp or mandatory minicamp, but if Jacobs wants to hit the ground running in his first season with the Raiders, he will have to continue practicing when given the opportunity. This is the best path to defeating the learning curve that hits every rookie.
Sure, the Alabama product will have to take some carries away from veteran Doug Martin early in order to fulfill his potential as the franchise running back, but the coaching staff is determined to get him heavily involved with this offense. Jon Gruden even said as much following the first round of the draft.
“He’s physical, he’s dynamic,” Gruden said, “he’s a great story indeed. Where this kid has come from. There is something inside of him that I didn’t go through as a young man, and I think he’s going to be a centerpiece at some point. I’m not going to put any pressure on him, he’s got a lot to learn. But we do have a good offensive line, we’ve got an experienced quarterback in our system now, we’ve got a couple of receivers that if you want to double them, perhaps this running back can do some damage. So, we’re excited at this addition to our team.”
There is still much work to be done before Jacobs is truly taking over in the Raiders backfield but his return to the field for OTAs is the first step in the process. Now the coaching staff just has to hope that he remains healthy and can keep growing with his teammates before the summer break.