A knee to the head late in the Raiders Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dallas Cowboys is threatening to derail what has been a successful season for veteran running back Rashad Jennings. Since signing to the Raiders and getting the chance at the feature back job Jennings has been the Raiders best, and to be frank only option at the running back position with both McFadden and Jeremy Stewart banged up.
Now suffering the second concussion of his five year NFL career Jennings is waiting on word from an independent physician on whether or not he will be medically cleared to play the New York Jets on Sunday. Jennings feels healthy, while head coach Dennis Allen is maintaining his year long stance on player safety being the most important factor in evaluating concussions.
“Everybody saw how I walked off the field and you can see how well I’m doing now,” Jennings said. “We’ll just take it day by day.”
“If we feel like a player is healthy and presents no risk, then they’ll play,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “If there’s any sort of risk involved, then we’re going to play the safe bet and hold them out.”
With the Raiders having the luxury of employing Marcel Reece, a player with a ton of Ray Rice-like qualities, at fullback and former running back Taiwan Jones on special teams the Raiders have two players that can step up in case all three of the Raiders running backs can’t go on Sunday. Still facing the best run D in the NFL it is natural that Jennings wants to play to see what type of damage he can do against a team that has allowed just 77 rushing yards per game this season.
“I love it. If you can’t get excited for this, you’re in the wrong business,” Jennings said. “You have to tip a cap to that defense. They’re very good against the run. It’s exciting to go against a unit of that caliber. They’re good, but I think we’re pretty good running the football too. It’ll be a fun challenge on Sunday, but execution has to be consistent to have success.
If Jennings can’t go it will be a massive blow for the Raiders who have been enjoying a rejuvenating season from Jennings since leaving Jacksonville from Oakland. Originally brought in to help lessen the strain on Darren McFadden in the run game, Jennings is cleary the best of the Raiders backs and with McFadden likely on the outs for the rest of the 2013 season Jennings is the only real option the Raiders have at running back without having to switch a player from another position. With just four games left in the 2013 season a loss to Jennings would handcuff the Raiders quietly improving offense quite significantly.
Down to just one running back, it is safe to say that Dennis Allen is hoping that Jennings gets that chance to test himself against the Jets run D. If not it might be a long day at the office for the Raiders, one that will be involving a heavy workload for Marcel Reece.