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Is Josh Jacobs running out of time to be ready for Raiders opener?

Updated August 21, 2023 - 12:57 pm

Running back Josh Jacobs is expected to report to the Raiders before their season opener in three weeks, multiple league sources have indicated.

But with only a few practices remaining before the club takes the field against the Broncos on Sept. 10, time is running out for Jacobs to be fully prepared for the rigors of an NFL game.

Jacobs has been away from the club all offseason and training camp after he and the Raiders failed to come to an agreement on a long-term contract. If and when he returns, he will play either on the terms of the $10.1 million franchise tag or a modified one-season salary.

Raiders coach Josh McDaniels did not have an update on the situation, but he did say Sunday that he believes Jacobs could stand to get some practice time under his belt.

“I think that it’s important for every player,” McDaniels said. “This is the National Football League, so it’s not easy to go out there and just play games and do it at the speed and level that you want to do it at, unless you’ve really kind of had enough opportunity to get yourself ready to do that.”

Jacobs is a proven worker who keeps himself in tiptop shape. But there is a difference between being in great physical shape and being ready to play extensively in a pro football game.

While NFL practices no longer replicate actual games in terms of the physicality of playing running back, dynamics like reading the blocking, hitting the right holes and making defenders miss still remain game-like.

Jacobs has missed quite a bit of that over the past four months.

“Whether it be J.J. or somebody else, it’s the same thing,” McDaniels said. “Everybody’s gotta have an opportunity to do that, to get reacclimated to the pace, the speed of things.”

Jacobs led the NFL last season with a career-high 1,653 rushing yards. He also added 12 touchdowns and 53 receptions for 400 yards and was a key component of an offense that scored the 12th-most points in the NFL.

But as McDaniels has said, maintaining performance levels is not guaranteed.

“Nothing carries over from one year to the next,” McDaniels said. “You have to re-establish your individual level of performance, and collectively as a unit and ultimately as a team, we have to establish and re-establish ourselves in terms of what we’re gonna be about.”

If Jacobs does not report in time for the season opener, second-year running back Zamir White is expected to get the starting nod. White has 83 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in the preseason.

That includes the 40 yards he gained Saturday against the Rams. He also added one catch for nine yards.

“Zamir has made a lot of progress in every area,” McDaniels said. “He caught the ball last night out of the backfield, he knows who he’s responsible for in protection, he’s chipping and slamming on the edges when he’s responsible to do that to help the tackles.

“He’s took great care of the football and protected it very well, which is a huge thing for us and our team, and runs downhill. He’s physical.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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