Josh Jacobs proving worthy of more opportunities for Raiders

Jacobs’ production and mindset has been strong in Raiders’ first two games


Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson (20) and linebacker Nick Vigil (59) during the first half of an NFL football game at Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas.

Thu, Sep 22, 2022 (2 a.m.)

From the moment the Raiders ran onto the field Sunday afternoon at Allegiant Stadium, Josh Jacobs was impossible to miss.

The Raiders’ veteran running back was the most energetic player in silver and black in pregame warm-ups, pumping up both the crowd and his teammates. He stayed wired once the game started, running “extremely hard” in coach Josh McDaniels’ words to key a couple first-half scoring drives.

“I grabbed him by the facemask and said, ‘That’s how you freaking run,’” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr shared on Wednesday. “There were a couple of times when he’s making two, three people miss, turning and then, going, boom, lowering his shoulder. That kind of stuff is good for everybody, and then when he comes to the sideline, of course, you’re going to listen to him.”

Jacobs was relegated mostly to a motivator role in the second half and overtime of the 29-23 loss as he only registered seven carries after a productive first half, finishing with 20 total touches for 81 yards. Fans have grumbled over the diminished workload and called for more opportunities for Jacobs in the wake of the defeat, which featured the biggest blown lead (20-0) in franchise history.

It might not be a bad idea as the Raiders (0-2) look for their first victory of the season 10 a.m. Sunday in a road game at the Tennessee Titans (0-2) considering how Jacobs has looked. He’s gotten off to a strong start to the season with 126 rushing yards on 29 carries to go with two receptions for 28 yards.

“He’s definitely one of those guys that’s going to bring it no matter what and that’s what we need,” fullback Jakob Johnson said on Wednesday. “That’s the mindset we’ve got to have regardless of what’s going on.”

Jacobs dealt with nagging injuries all throughout last season, and therefore, spent his offseason focused on training his body to be more durable. He noted at training camp that everyone was telling him he looked faster, and that’s come across in flashes in the first two games.

The question is if it’s coming across enough as Las Vegas ranks second-to-last (ahead of only the New York Jets) in the NFL in running the ball on only 29 percent of its plays.

“That’s above my head,” Jacobs said when asked Sunday if the Raiders should have stuck with the run more. “That’s not my call to make. I feel like I just try to go out there and execute what I could.”

Jacobs delivered that response with no malice in his voice, a trend for how he’s conducted himself ever since McDaniels arrived in Las Vegas. Jacobs has stayed positive despite encountering several potential reasons to be upset this offseason

Las Vegas declined picking up his fifth-year option, signed two free-agent running backs (Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah), drafted two more (Zamir White and Brittain Brown) and cut Kenyan Drake, whom Jacobs advocated signing last season. He also was not named a captain this season despite serving in the role a year ago.

“I really don’t think too much about it, honestly,” Jacobs said this summer at training camp after his fifth-year option was not exercised. “I'm a firm believer in, the work that you put in is going pay off for itself. I had to be here either way, and this is where I want to be. So, I didn't have a problem with it. It gave me more of a reason to come in every day, jell with the guys and work.”

Jacobs has gotten the ball on all but four of the Raiders’ designed run plays through two weeks. He’s also been on the field for 66% of the offensive snaps, with Abdullah the next closest running back at 17%. Bolden notably missed the Week 2 game with a hamstring injury but was back at practice in a limited capacity Wednesday.

That large of a workload for Jacobs has been a mild surprise with what looked like more of a running back rotation in training camp, but McDaniels cautioned not to look too much into it. But he also said that Jacobs has earned the role.

Jacobs certainly hasn’t done anything to lose it in the games, as he currently ranks seventh in the NFL among running backs in Pro Football Focus’ player grades. Tennessee sits 30th in the NFL in giving up 6.1 yards per rush attempt.

Perhaps Week 3 is the time McDaniels sticks with Jacobs throughout the game, and gets rewarded for it.

“He’s done well with the chances he’s had, which doesn’t surprise anyone here,” McDaniels said.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

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