A major concern coming into 2016 was depth at running back. Despite gaining over 1,000 yards and earning a Pro Bowl berth, Latavius Murray was the only game in town in Oakland last season and it showed. His yards-per-carry dipped from 4.5 over the first eight games to 3.3 over the last eight games. Perhaps that’s because, with 138 yards, QB Derek Carr was the team’s second leading rusher.
Well worry no longer. The Raiders drafted speedy yet powerful DeAndre Washington out of Texas Tech in the 5th round of the 2016 draft, and thus far he’s been everything advertised and more and looks to be capable of not only spelling Murray, but playing all three downs.
A nice surprise, though, has been the emergence of shifty, speedy, and elusive UDFA Jalen Richard from Southern Miss. Roughly the same size as Washington (both are roughly 5’8, 210 pds) both players have shown tremendous burst, quickness, and footwork. What Richard seems to have over the other backs thus far is crazy elusiveness. He’s got a spin-move straight out of Madden. He’s got more hops than the worst craft beers on the market . And he’s willing to stick his nose in and get dirty.
must read: Dan Williams Working With the 2nd Team
Another UDFA making some noise is Johnny Holton. A playmaker at Cincinnati who averaged 19.4 ypc last season, Holton is instant offense when he gets his hands on the ball. He caught two deep outs in spectacular fashion in the fourth practice, and has routinely made plays throughout camp. With the lack of depth at receiver and Del Rio stating there’s time available behind Andre Holmes, Holton has positioned himself with fellow UDFA’s Max McCaffrey and minicamp darling Joe Hansley as the group to beat.
Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper look to be in midseason form, but one player who’s heard the offseason hype and tried to change his particular headline within that hype? Mychal Rivera.
Seeming to be marginalized with the addition of blocking bull Lee Smith last year and the emergence of Clive Walford as a pass catcher, Rivera apparently didn’t get the memo and has been blowing up training camp , honestly as one of the better players on the field.
The Patriots enjoyed immense success with Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on the field at the same time. I am not saying Rivera and Walford are Hernandez and Gronk, but Walford is expected to break out this season and Rivera isn’t going quietly into that good night. This is a true NFL first world problem to have – oh no, a player we were thinking of getting rid of is actually really good! Whatever do we do?
I’m sure they’ll figure it out, and have fun doing so.
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