Raiders mailbag: Can Marshawn Lynch still be productive at his age?

Updated August 16, 2018 - 8:25 pm

Send NFL writer Gilbert Manzano all your Raiders questions and hot takes. Tweet him @GManzano24 or email him gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Here’s the second Raiders mailbag heading into Saturday’s exhibition versus the Rams.

Marshawn Lynch hit the hole like a trailing anchor leg on the final curve of a 400-meter relay race during the Raiders’ preseason game against the Detroit Lions last week.

The only man left to beat was Lions safety Glover Quin. It was two 32 year olds sprinting to the end zone.

Beast Mode hawked him, as the saying goes in the track and field world.

Lynch sprinted past Quin for a 60-yard touchdown, but the big run was negated because of a holding penalty on rookie left tackle Kolton Miller.

But no one cared that the touchdown didn’t count. Suddenly, Lynch’s age didn’t matter.

Lynch’s speed was the hot topic, and his decision to sit during the pregame national anthem became an afterthought, at least for one night.

Many have asked me since the run, mainly for fantasy purposes, how Lynch has looked in training camp and what type of season can the football world expect from him entering his 11th NFL season.

Lynch is still doing Beast Mode-like things. The former first-team All-Pro is breaking tackles, making cuts, bursting through holes, and most importantly, being treated like a three-down back.

Expect Lynch to receive the bulk of the workload even with Doug Martin, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard and Chris Warren III on the depth chart.

Lynch was arguably the Raiders’ best offensive player last season and finished strong down the stretch. In the final five games, Lynch averaged 86.8 rushing yards, fourth best in the league, and 5.2 yards per carry, second highest in the league.

For the season, Lynch had 207 carries for 891 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Definitely not the numbers fantasy owners want to see.

But Lynch had former Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing last season.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden is now making the calls and he wants to take it back to 1998. The old-school method worked on Lynch’s memorable run that featured eight blockers and one motioning wide receiver to throw off the defense.

The signs are all there for Lynch to have a productive season, but father time isn’t kind to running backs over the age of 30 with 10-plus years of NFL experience.

Aftermath of Penn deal

When my colleague Michael Gehlken broke the news Monday that Raiders offensive lineman Donald Penn had agree to take a pay cut, many had the same follow up question.

“What about Mack?” @Raider_chucky tweeted.

Penn’s pay cut doesn’t mean more money for Raiders star pass-rusher Khalil Mack, who’s holding out for a new massive contract.

Gehlken explained it best: “Like canceling a Netflix subscription before purchasing a new car.”

Penn’s restructured deal helped the team in other ways. Mack’s extension wasn’t one of them.

Giving the team depth on the offensive line is one way the Raiders benefited.

Penn is now likely assured a starting position after rumors surfaced that he could be released to hand the left tackle job to Miller.

“Penn won. Kolton can sit back and learn from a great,” @RaiderAce562 tweeted.

Miller will continue to learn from Penn, but it’s looking like they’ll both be starting. Penn, a three-time Pro Bowler at left tackle, took snaps at right tackle this week with Miller lined up in quarterback Derek Carr’s blind spot.

It might be risky to give Miller such an important position this early in his career when one of the best left tackles in the league is on the Raiders’ roster.

Penn said this position change isn’t permanent. Maybe the Raiders are waiting to see how Miller does in the upcoming preseason games.

The Raiders are getting dicey but smart to be looking at all scenarios.

Average Raiders?

I encourage hot takes on this mailbag series. Everyone needs to vent at times. Ed Vovsi had a lot to say.

“This is a mediocre team at best,” Vovsi’s email read. “Carr is a pedestrian quarterback who doesn’t deserve the expectations that are being foisted onto his shoulders. The rest of the team is the usual disaster. … I’m looking at a 7-9 season record.”

Vovsi goes on to say he hopes he’s wrong, so he’s not a complete negative Raiders fan. Vovsi just likes to keep it 100, as the kids like to say.

To start training camp, I also saw 7-9 in the Raiders’ future. I’ve changed my tune a bit.

The Raiders will probably struggle in the secondary again, and the offense might need time to grasp Gruden’s game plans. But I’ve been impressed with the depth and competition Gruden has created in many areas, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.

Sometimes one great draft class can lead a team into the postseason in the same year. That’s what happened to the New Orleans Saints in 2017.

The Raiders might have something special with rookie defensive tackles P.J. Hall and Maurice Hurst. Both stood out in camp and made plays versus the Lions in the preseason game and joint practices.

With training camp closing Thursday, the Raiders suddenly have plenty of upside.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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