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Raiders rookie Josh Jacobs focused on football, not Hollywood

ALAMEDA, Calif. — It makes sense that Josh Jacobs wants to wait on the whole Hollywood screen play part of things.

Why begin casting roles when much of the story hasn’t been written, though the idea someone would beat out Frank Caliendo for the part of Jon Gruden as coach of the Raiders is just silly.

The journey Jacobs has traveled has all the elements for a compelling tale on the big screen, the character and desire and conflict, but his is more a wish to exist in the present.

Which means he probably doesn’t want to tell Gruden he’s analyzing a script more than his playbook.

“I don’t know how it came about, honestly,” Jacobs said recently during the team’s mandatory minicamp. “I was just being hit up by big-name producers, like three or four of them, about doing a movie. I don’t know if I’m going to do it or not. I feel like there’s perfect timing to everything, and I just don’t feel like now is the right time.

“It’s taking the story into a deeper level. It’s saying some things that I have left out that would probably be shown in the movie, and I don’t know if I want to do it. I haven’t really thought about it too much.”

There is a reason for that, and it begins in the Raiders’ backfield, as the rookie Jacobs is expected to be the starter when the season opens against Denver on Sept. 9.

His voyage to a first-round pick — No. 24 overall out of Alabama — has been well chronicled, his own words in a Players’ Tribune piece describing a youth of poverty, homeless for a time and living out of a car as his father struggled to provide for five children.

Movie type stuff, is right.

But the headlines he seeks, at least for now, are more about production on the field than post-production on a studio lot, the former a goal Jacobs should be given every opportunity to realize when things get going for real.

The Raiders need him to be good, as so many other young running backs have been. Season after season, the NFL watches rookies make instant impacts, players who immediately contribute and at times become overnight stars.

Think about it. Saquon Barkley, Sony Michel, Nick Chubb and Phillip Lindsay arrived from the 2018 draft. It can happen fast for some guys.

Jacobs was selected with the idea he would, at least in the beginning, back up another former college standout from the state of Alabama. But then Isaiah Crowell suffered a torn Achilles during a team workout, veteran Doug Martin was immediately re-signed and all eyes shifted toward a rookie who, during a three-season career in Tuscaloosa, carried the ball only 251 times for 1,491 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Every-down back?

Which means there should be some serious tread left on those tires.

It also means legitimate questions will arise about whether Jacobs can handle being an every-down back.

“It’s definitely something that I push myself toward every day,” he said. “I try to work hard every day so that I can be able to withstand that. But it’s also something that I have been looking forward to for myself to see if I can handle that, take on that challenge. We’ll see how it goes.”

The offensive line has been upgraded, and so has wide receiver. If the Raiders can keep quarterback Derek Carr upright and healthy, generating points shouldn’t be a pressing matter most weeks. But it can’t be a one-dimensional mindset.

For this, Jacobs has leaned on those within the team’s running backs room, on Martin and Jalen Richard and Chris Warren III and DeAndre Washington. It wasn’t always that way in college, in the Dynasty that Nick Saban Built.

“When I initially came to Alabama, there were a couple people that kind of helped me at first, but it wasn’t people that had necessarily played that much,” Jacobs said. “Here, everybody is teaching you the ropes. They don’t care if they’ve been there, vets or two-year guys, they’re all teaching you.

“All my time is really invested in football right now. I’m here all day.”

Translation: The big screen can wait.

There’s a different kind of story to tell.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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