Devontae Booker is saying all the right things about Sunday being just another game on the Raiders’ schedule. He knows that’s not true.
There is a reason the backup running back was chosen to speak to the media after Thursday’s practice.
Booker spent his first four seasons with the Broncos and will get his first shot to play against his former team when the Raiders play host to Denver on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
“Anybody that plays their ex-team wants revenge and all this extra stuff, but for me it’s another game,” he said. “Knowing I played there four years, of course I want to go out and win and beat these guys. But I can only talk about it so much. We just have to go out there and win.”
Booker arrived in Denver with high expectations as a fourth-round pick out of Utah in the 2016 draft. He famously said as a rookie he wasn’t there to carry shoulder pads, he was there to take someone’s job.
Then C.J. Anderson got hurt midway through the season and Booker was thrust into a featured role, only to be relegated to backup duty the next season when Anderson returned.
He went from 174 carries for 612 yards as a rookie to 79 carries for 299 yards in his second season.
It didn’t get much better from there. Booker played in all 32 games over the last two seasons, but went from 34 carries in 2018 to just two in 2019 as his usage dropped all four seasons in Denver.
“It was very frustrating in a way, but I can only control what I can control and I can only say so much,” he said. “Even though I didn’t get the carries I thought I should have had in Denver, I just always kept working because I never knew when my opportunity was going to come.”
Booker has made the most of the chances he has received to spell Jacobs, helping to keep the team’s workhorse fresh.
He has done that and more. Booker has 33 carries for 223 yards in eight games and scored his first touchdown of the season when he went 23 yards untouched down the right sideline against the Chargers last week.
The 28-year-old has also secured all eight of his targets for 60 yards.
“I don’t know anything about Devontae and his time in Denver,” offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “What we do know is he’s been an exemplary player for us. … We like the skill set that he brings. … We’re just happy with the guy that we got.”
Booker is just as happy with his decision to sign in Las Vegas.
He has quickly bonded with Jacobs, Alec Ingold, Theo Riddick, Jalen Richard and the rest of the running back room.
While Jacobs and Ingold were both rookies with the Raiders last year and Richard has been a Raider his whole career, Booker said he and Riddick have had conversations about how the room in previous spots wasn’t as close.
Mostly, he’s just excited to be involved on offense again after getting so few touches the last few seasons.
“I got my opportunity here and I’m just glad I’m here and making the most of it,” he said. “It’s been good. Just showing everybody that I can play and contribute. It’s never gone unnoticed here. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to go out and do what I can do.”
Now he gets the chance to remind the Broncos.