The moment the Raiders signed Doug Martin and acquired Ryan Switzer, Jalen Richard’s spot on the team became a blur. He’s not going to be handed his spot like last year. A strong showing in training camp will be a confirmation to the coaches that Richard can still do damage.
However, he can’t do damage if he doesn’t polish up his ball security.
Richard could be seen as a high risk, high reward type of player to the coaches. He has the potential to break a run of 20+ yards, but also can fumble the ball. Players that cause self-inflicting wounds on the team are a coaches nightmare.
I was hoping last season was just a fluke for Richard, but if he’s still struggling to find the handle on the ball during the offseason then he’ll be cut.
Most of Richard’s fumbles came off of punt return and that’s where the addition of Ryan Switzer comes in to hurt Richard. Switzer was the Dallas Cowboys punt returner and he didn’t have fumble issues like Richard did. The Raiders special teams coach Rich Bissacia held the same position with the Cowboys over the last few seasons, so he’s familar with Switzer.
He’s most likely going to favor Switzer as punt returner, which now makes Richard one dimensional.
Training camp is going to be crucial for Richard to beat out Doug Martin for a roster spot. I have no doubt in my mind that Richard can do it. Let’s not forget Richard was an undrafted free agent for the Raiders two years ago, so he’s no stranger to competition. Richard will just need to stay hungry and continue polishing himself in order to make the team.