Josh Jacobs looks explosive so far in Raiders camp
The Raiders opted against picking up the fifth-year option of Josh Jacobs. But early in training camp, he looks primed for a big year.
Josh Jacobs took a handoff from Derek Carr on Saturday at Raiders training camp, spotted an open hole and, almost as if he was on skates, sped through the seam on his way to a long run.
Forget for a moment there was an actual hole for Jacobs to exploit — that was a rare achievement for the Raiders’ offensive line last year — what truly stood out was the smooth and explosive manner in which Jacobs got into high gear.
It’s only three days into camp, but it’s obvious that all work the Jacobs put in over the last six months has pushed his body to another level. That shows in how explosive he looks.
In fact, it’s almost like he got faster.
“I keep getting that,” Jacobs said, smiling. “I keep hearing that.”
If so, it’s the result of the disciplined — and mostly behind-the-scenes — offseason Jacobs spent getting his body to peak level. While Jacobs was a constant participant in the Raiders’ offseason program, including their three-day minicamp in June, he didn’t take part in the on-field practice portions.
It led to speculation that he was dealing with an injury, but Jacobs insisted on Saturday it was more of a general maintenance program as opposed to addressing something specific.
“I was just getting my body right,” Jacobs said. “I didn’t have anything that was too crazy. I was just focusing on what I needed to focus on at that time.”
A re-energized Jacobs, coupled with what the Raiders hope is an improved offensive line, puts him in position for a big season. Throw in the fact he will be operating in and around what is shaping up as a prolific passing attack with Davante Adams now joining Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, and Jacobs could have plenty of room to roam.
“The happiest person in the building should be Josh Jacobs,” Carr said.
The timing could not be more perfect.
Jacobs has plenty of motivation to have a big season. He faces a murky future after the Raiders declined to pick up his fifth-year option. After falling below the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career last year, finishing with just 872 yards, he can enhance his chances of remaining with the Raiders, or create a safe landing spot for himself elsewhere, with a bounce-back year.
For now, Jacobs is focusing more on learning Josh McDaniels’ playbook and bonding with a slew of new teammates than his contract situation. That includes getting over any sting that resulted in the Raiders’ decision to not pick up his option.
“I really don’t too much think about it, honestly. I’m a firm believer in the work that you put in is going to pay off for itself,” Jacobs said. “I had to be here either way, and this is where I want to be.”
It’s a prudent approach. Dwelling on his uncertain future could jeopardize his ability to create a market for himself. It’s a mindset he created at the end of last season when it became obvious the Raiders would be transitioning to a new coaching staff and general manager.
“I knew that I was going to have to learn a new offense. I knew I was going to have to come in and adjust to new coaches and all of those things,” Jacobs said. “So I knew I was just going to have to work. This whole offseason, I’ve kind of been thinking about all that.”
So far, so good, as Jacobs appears to be in a good place both physically and mentally.
The challenge is making sure that remains the case, especially from a physical standpoint. Jacobs’ three-year Raiders career has been marked by nicks and bruises that have cost him six full games and parts of others. It’s also meant a reduced version of himself at various points, particularly late in the season.
Part of the offseason thought process was with that element in mind, the hope being he is better prepared to get through the season.
The deep running back position the Raiders have built should mitigate some of that, as it will mean more of a committee approach among three or four backs and enhance Jacobs’ chances of staying healthy from start to finish.
If so, the benefit will be two-fold. Jacobs will be in line to solidify his future, and the Raiders will construct a run foundation to offset a powerful passing game.
“For me personally, in any offense, in any system, you’ve got to be dominant upfront. You’ve got to be dominant with the run,” Jacobs said. “That’s how you control the game. That’s how you win games.”
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at email@example.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.
Monday: Rookies reported to training camp
Wednesday: Veterans reported to training camp
Aug. 4: Preseason opener, vs. Jaguars, Canton, Ohio
Aug. 30: Rosters must be cut to final 53
Sept. 11: Regular-season opener, at Chargers