The Oakland Raiders have some questions marks about their running game, and undrafted rookie Jalen Richard might be the answer they’re looking for.
Richard, who had an impressive training camp, returned to practice for the Silver and Black on Tuesday.
The rookie wasn’t able to play in the teams first two preseason games due to a knee injury, but he’s hopeful he will play in the Raiders third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
“I’m slowly working my way back into it. I’m going to give it another shot today. It definitely feels good to be out there from an intensity standpoint, being out there and moving around in pads. It’s a day by day thing. I’m not sure if I’m playing Saturday or not, but I’m going to go today and see how I feel and take it day by day.”
Richard exploded onto the scene in the Conference USA athletic conference his senior year.
He ran for 1,098 yards and 14 touchdowns and was a part of Southern Mississippi’s high octane offense that averaged 519.8 yards a game during the 2015 regular season.
The Raiders are in need of more impact from the running back position. The run game was non-existent in their preseason game against the Packers.
They ran the ball 19 times and could only muster 46 yards. Averaging 2.4 yards per attempt is a recipe for disaster for any offense.
A combination of poor blocking and poor running can be attributed to the Raiders run game struggles, and so far starting running back Latavius Murray has been average at best.
It is only preseason, and there is still plenty of time to rectify the run game, but Richard offers a potential spark for a Raiders offense that’s looked lackluster at times.
Richard hasn’t seen any game time yet, but on the practice field he excelled at finding a hole in the line, and exploding downfield.
At 5-foot-8, Richard is small enough to hide behind the Raiders mammoth offensive line, and he isn’t afraid of making contact with defenders either.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave was excited to have Richard back at practice:
“Too bad he had a little knee injury the past couple of weeks. … For a while he was doing something spectacular each and every day in practice. Good to have him back out there yesterday. It really reminded us of what we’ve missed the last two weeks in practice without him being there.”
Richard has to compete with Murray, fifth-round pick DeAndre Washington and Taiwan Jones for carries, but said he’s simply trying to make the most of his opportunity:
“It feels real good (to be back). You definitely come here as an undrafted guy and you’re really pushing every day to make plays, to be seen. Let them know everyday that you can play at this level. It feels good to be back out there…from what I was hearing back from coaches and players just kept giving me confidence each day to go out there and continue to play.”