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Raiders report: Fullback happy to return days after being released

Updated November 22, 2023 - 9:42 am

Jakob Johnson has been around the NFL long enough to understand the business side of the league.

He took it in stride when he was waived by the Raiders last week, knowing there was a good chance he would be back with the team. He just had to wait. Still, those three hours the team was on the field during Sunday’s 20-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins weren’t easy to endure.

“Watching the game was a different deal,” Johnson admitted Tuesday after he was brought back to the practice squad. “You obviously just want to be out there with the guys. But I was very proud of the work they put in. They looked very good for big stretches. I think it was a lot closer than a lot of people thought. There’s a lot of fight left in this team and I’m glad to still be a part of it.”

When Johnson was released late last week, interim coach Antonio Pierce indicated the team hoped to bring him back if possible. That scenario became more likely once Johnson cleared waivers. The team made it official Tuesday by adding Johnson to the practice squad and releasing tight end Jesse James, who was signed earlier this month.

“Being on the practice squad is a more fluid situation than being on the roster, but I take it for what it is and appreciate the trust they have in me to bring me back,” Johnson said. “It’s a business, so it is what it is. It’s how the NFL works. I’m just glad to be back here and still get to put in work with these guys to try to go beat Kansas City.”

Johnson was all smiles in the locker room as he joked with his teammates. Watching the game on television was a bit more nerve-racking.

“I’m pretty calm, but my German cousins are in town and they are full screamers,” Johnson said. “They went on an emotional roller coaster.”

Miller improving

Pierce once again expressed optimism starting left tackle Kolton Miller could return when the Raiders host the Chiefs on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

The team only had a walkthrough Tuesday, so there wasn’t much opportunity to evaluate where Miller is in his recovery from a shoulder injury that has kept him out the last two games.

“Looks like he’s trending in the right direction,” Pierce said. “I’m hoping that’s the case.”

Breaking the routine

Routine is valued in the typically regimented NFL, but the Raiders have been mixing it up.

They practiced early in the morning last week to prepare for an east coast game. They are taking Thursday off this week so the players can be with their families on Thanksgiving. They were in the building for a rare Tuesday work day to make up for the time.

“If you’ve followed me the last three weeks, we’ve changed our routine every week,” Pierce said. “We’re comfortable being uncomfortable and that’s on purpose to have these kinds of situations that are coming up.

“Just don’t blink. Our guys have done a good job of that. We just take whatever day is given to us and make the most out of it.

All that matters to Pierce is they get their preparation done for the game.

“When we’re here working, let’s work,” he said. “And when we’re eating that turkey and ham with our family, let’s enjoy that turkey and ham.”

Challenged

Pierce threw his first legal challenge flag Sunday against the Dolphins.

It proved successful, as the Raiders were awarded the ball on a fumble when quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was originally ruled down.

Pierce threw a flag the previous week against the Jets, but it came after a turnover. That is not allowed by rule. He did it at a more appropriate time against the Dolphins. His form was better, too.

“The first one I threw wasn’t good,” he said. “This one I had a nice easy toss, like cornhole. It was fun.”

It also helps to win the challenge, which Pierce credited to good and timely communication from his staff in the booth.

“That felt real good,” he said. “Put it in my back pocket and was ready to throw it again. We have our process of how we operate, and from the field level it always looks one way or the other. I thought I had a good view on it and had a bead on it, but obviously upstairs had a really good bead on it and we threw it. It’s one of those deals that changed the game at the time. It gave us three points.

“I’m glad I finally won one.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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