Raiders 2022 Training Camp: One question for each unit on offense
Running backs: Can Zamir White get time on the field?
Most of Raider Nation wants to see the 22-year-old rookie line up in the backfield, but is it realistic?
The Silver and Black declined Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option, but that certainly doesn’t mean the former Alabama back won’t be the RB1 in Las Vegas. Due to Kenyan Drake’s strength in the passing game, as well as proving himself a strong pure rusher, it’s hard to imagine Drake won’t be the RB2.
There’s no real way White takes the keys from Jacobs in just his rookie season, and it’s unlikely the former Georgia back trumps proven tailback Kenyan Drake in year one. As far as third-down back goes, the Raiders signed a McDaniels favorite in the offseason to a 2-year deal. In all likelihood, Brandon Bolden will lock down the 3DRB job.
So, how does White sneak into the equation?
The most plausible way would be if McDaniels decides to use Drake in a Nyheim Hines-type role, where the second-year Raider would be more than just a running back. Jon Gruden gave Drake this role last season, allowing Peyton Barber to step up as the RB1 in Jacobs’s absence, due to Drake having too much versatility to be glued to running back.
Per RotoWire, Drake lined up as a receiver on 35 occasions in 2021. If this carries into the 2022 season, while Drake would still receive multiple snaps as a tailback, White could earn a solid number of snaps out of the backfield.
It doesn’t help that White continues to miss practices with an injury, although the injury isn’t considered severe. The rookie running back will have to get into the swing of things soon if he wants a legitimate chance to see ample field time this upcoming season.
A second way White could grab significant snaps is if Jacobs misses time. It’s not something you want to think about, but given the Raider drafted in 2019 has yet to play a full season, the scenario is impossible to ignore. If Jacobs is unable to suit up during the season, White should see a good number of snaps in Jacobs’ absence, even if it’s as the RB2.