Raider running back Marshawn Lynch has been suspended for Sunday’s game in Buffalo.
With their leading ball-carrier out, Oakland will lean on Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington to shoulder the load against the Bills (4-2), who drafted Lynch in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
Lynch appealed the one-game suspension, a product of his making contact with an official during the second quarter of the Oakland’s last-minute 31-30 win against the Kansas City Chiefs Thursday, but an NFL appeals officer upheld the punishment on Tuesday. The Raiders (3-4) plan to turn to Richard and Washington as well as full back Jamize Olawale in the wake of the appeal ruling. Derek Carr discussed Lynch’s suspension and the duo of Richard and Washington on Wednesday:
“We love Marshawn, we love playing with him. We love him in the building. We love him on game day. So for him to have to miss this game, it’s hard … [Richard and Washington] are going to have to play a big role, which is fine for them, they’ve done it before in games for us. They can both do the same thing.”
Head coach Jack Del Rio agreed, adding that Richard and Washington both have very similar skill sets:
“They’ve both proved that they’re valuable assets, they’re good players, they’re dependable. They’re somewhat interchangeable in that their stature’s similar and their size and speed and all that is similar. But to me, I’m just proud to have them, those two young men have done a nice job preparing and being ready for this moment where they’re going to get more opportunities.”
Lynch leads the team with 72 carries, well ahead of Richard’s 35 and Washington’s 23. After Lynch’s ejection, Richard and Washington carried the ball nine times apiece, combining for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Beyond skill sets, the pair of runners are close to being mirror images of each other, physically. Both backs are listed at 5’8″ and within 10 pounds of each other. Del Rio joked that he would have trouble telling them apart were it not for their jersey numbers.
Richard talked about his and Washington’s similarities:
“Every running back has a skill set. … it’s very close. [Washington] might be a little bit stronger than I am and I might run some routes a bit better than he does. But other than that, our feel for the game, our vision, our ability to make plays, we both do that in our own right.”
Carr also said that Richard, Washington and Olawale are “guys that I trust.” Richard later expressed appreciation at the sentiment and told SFBay, he wants everyone to trust him:
“If I feel like I can’t trust one guy, why would I want to go to war with him?”
In addition to the elevated expectations of Richard, Washington and Olawale, the Raiders announced Wednesday the team signed running back Elijah Hood to the active roster. The Raiders selected Hood in the seventh round of the 2017 draft and has been a member of the practice squad for the first seven weeks of the regular season.