ALAMEDA, Calif. — When a team drafts a running back in the first round, it’s fair to expect the player to make an immediate impact. So far, Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs has done just that.
Selected at No. 24 overall out of Alabama, Jacobs has rushed for 307 yards and a pair of touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He’s gained more than 100 yards from scrimmage in both of the Raiders’ victories, demonstrating that he’s the kind of running back who can finish a game.
Given Jacobs’ Alabama pedigree, quarterback Derek Carr said he has expected nothing less from the precocious rookie.
That’s part of why it makes sense to have Jacobs set the tone on offense, which he did in Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Colts, rushing four times for 22 yards on the opening drive.
“We knew that we just wanted to come in and be physical and establish the run early,” Jacobs said. “We knew there were potential gaps for the run game, and we just tried to be patient and execute.”
Then, toward the end of the game, after the Colts had cut the lead to seven points, the Raiders turned to Jacobs again. He ran for 7 yards on first down and 5 more on second, getting a first down that allowed the Raiders to run out the clock.
Jacobs said he takes a lot of pride in being that kind of closer, because it means he can be relied upon. “It was just definitely huge for us,” he said.
He even caught a couple passes for 29 yards, shaking defenders along the way.
“I caught a few bodies today,” Jacobs said with a laugh. “That’s fun.”
Carr said he hasn’t been caught off guard by anything Jacobs has done through the first quarter of the season. Jacobs said he hasn’t had to do as much adjusting as he expected, especially when it comes to the speed of the NFL game.
“Honestly, it’s not what everybody told me it was going to be — just to be honest,” Jacobs said. “Since camp, I kinda feel like I’ve got the pace of the game. And I know it goes levels — when the playoffs come and things like that, it speeds up. But right how, it’s smooth.”
According to Carr, one of the best aspects of Jacobs’ game is how he embraces contact. Running backs can take a pounding, and Carr has a lot of respect for the way Jacobs approaches physicality.
“I sit there and watch these guys. What they go through is ridiculous,” Carr said. “He gets excited about it.”
Carr said Jacobs like to take the punch to defenders, “even if they do stick it to him.”
Carr also complimented Jacobs’ ability to block in pass protection, which he said is what he likes best about the rookie.
“I’m just trying to tell you all the special things about the kid,” Carr said. “I love him.”
It’s only been four games, but so far it looks as if the Raiders made the right pick.
“This guy is going to be a great back,” coach Jon Gruden said. “As long as I don’t screw it up, he’s going to be one hell of a player.”