Backup Running Backs Continue to Shine
In 2015, the Raiders finished the season 28th in rushing despite having Pro Bowl running back Latavius Murray earning over 1,000 yards on the ground. How did this occur? Derek Carr was Oakland’s second-leading rusher.
Because of their lack of talent behind Murray, Del Rio made an effort this offseason to bring in some younger guys that could both lighten the load for Murray and obviously produce when handed the ball.
First on that list is former Texas Tech running back DeAndré Washington. At 5’8”, 204 pounds, Washington fell to the fifth round in the 2016 NFL draft due in large part to his lack of size, but because of his compact frame and elite burst, he has been able to make plays at the NFL level.
Against Tennessee, Washington earned 55 rushing yards on eight attempts, one of them being a 31-yard scamper on the outside. Washington also popped into the end zone on a six-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr in the first quarter.
Washington remained humble in his postgame press conference when asked about his touchdown reception.
“”Yeah, it was kind of a game plan deal, there were some things we liked in our film,” Washington said. “He was just able to execute it. [Carr] made a good ball and I was able to complete the pass.”
Fellow rookie Jalen Richard was also able to make an impact in his preseason debut, as he carried the ball seven times for 35 yards. Richard has been held out of the preseason because of injury, but he now seems ready to take care of business on the field.
“I feel real good, great,” Richard said when asked how he felt physically. “I chuckled with the trainers on the sideline. They were happy for me. They were like ‘You worked hard for those two weeks coming back.’ I really did. This was well deserved. But like I said, we continuously have things to improve on.”
Del Rio spoke highly of both the younger running backs in his postgame press conference.
“I thought they both ran hard, ran with vision, Del Rio said. “They make people miss, so I was pleased. Pleased with both of them really. They were pretty good in the returning game as well. So I think going into the offseason we were hoping we could develop a running back that could be a really good backup for us and it looks like we have a shot at having one of those guys help us, possibly both. We’ll see.”
Next: Preseason Week 3 Takeaways