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Oakland Raiders 2017 Position Battles: Running Backs

Posted Jul 12, 2017

Time to take a look at the Raiders running backs headed into Training Camp 2017.

MORE POSITION BATTLES: Wide Receivers, Cornerbacks, Offensive Line, Defensive Line

Today, we take a look at the running backs that are currently on the Oakland Raiders roster, and how the position group will shake out heading into Training Camp 2017.

With the addition of Marshawn Lynch to the fold this season, “Beast Mode” will certainly garner a lot of chatter, but don’t sleep on the rest of the Raiders running backs either; the group is likely as complete, and dynamic as any in the AFC.

Let’s took a look at the players, and prognosticate what we will see from each of them in 2017.

*We’ve also included the only listed fullback on the roster, Jamize Olawale, in this breakdown.

Elijah Hood

2016 Recap (WITH NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS: 145 Carries, 858 Rushing Yards, Eight Touchdowns, 25 Catches, 142 Receiving Yards)

General Manager Reggie McKenzie selected the bruising running back with his third of four picks in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft.

After a decorated career at UNC, Hood elected to forego his senior season, and now finds himself as the youngest player in Running Backs Coach Bernie Parmalee’s group.

Hood has said that he looks up to Lynch, and not only do the two have similar builds, and running styles, but they share birthdays as well.

With the trio of Lynch, Jalen Richard, and DeAndré Washington, Hood might find himself as more of a student in 2017, but as we know, every guy on the roster is just one play away from being called into action.

Taiwan Jones

2016 Recap (One Carry, -8 Rushing Yards, Four Catches, 43 Yards, Eight Kickoff Returns, 112 Yards)

Jones is another player whose value can’t be accurately gauged by looking at his statistics.

Now headed into his seventh season in Silver and Black, Jones has the ability to be an elite special teams player, and that’s likely where he’ll get most of his work again in 2017.

One thing Jones has though is speed; the man can fly out fly, so I’ll be interested to see if Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing inserts any plays into the game plan that puts Jones out in space.

Marshawn Lynch

2016 Recap (Retired)

Oakland’s hometown hero came out of retirement this spring and was acquired by the Silver and Black on April 26.

Since his return, Lynch was not only an active participant in the team’s Offseason Workout Program, but has remained a consistent presence in the community as well, as he just hosted a youth camp at the team’s practice facility.

The expectation headed into 2017 is that Lynch will be the team’s featured back, handling a majority of the rushing duties, and I for one, am excited to see how he looks when the pads come on.

The man affectionately referred to as “Beast Mode” has made a living delivering punishing hits, and running violently, and that type of thing can’t be accurately appreciated without pads.

Jamize Olawale

2016 Recap (17 Carries, 47 Rushing Yards, Two Touchdowns, 12 Receptions, 227 Receiving Yards, One Touchdown)

Jamize Olawale, receiving threat? Last year the physical fullback finished the season with 227 receiving yards, more than he had totaled in his previous four NFL seasons combined.

Now, Olawale won’t be pushing Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree for time outside, but that stat does a pretty good job of showing just how athletic, and valuable an asset, Olawale can be.

Yes, realistically No. 49 will spend most of his time as a lead blocker for Marshawn Lynch and Co., but don’t be surprised if Olawale finds himself with the ball in his hands once again, as he’s shown that he can make things happen when given the opportunity.

Jalen Richard

2016 Recap (83 Carries, 491 Rushing Yards, One Touchdown, 29 Receptions, 194 Receiving Yards, Two Touchdowns, 17 Kickoff Returns, 402 Yards, 34 Punt Returns, 306 Yards)

If you need a real world example of hard work paying off, look no further than Jalen Richard.

After not getting picked up in the 2016 Draft, Richard had one tryout offer extended his way, and it was from the Oakland Raiders.

From there, Richard made the team’s final roster, and not only ranked second on the team with 491 rushing yards at season’s end, but was also named a Pro Bowl alternate.

Now going into his second season, Richard, along with DeAndré Washington, will provide a nice change of pace from what Lynch brings to the table.

Variety is the spice of life, and that rule holds true for football as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing how Richard gels with Lynch, and builds off his solid rookie season.

DeAndré Washington

2016 Recap (87 Carries, 467 Rushing Yards, Two Touchdowns, 17 Receptions, 115 Yards)

The former Texas Tech Red Raider finished his rookie season on a high note, really establishing himself as an offensive weapon for the Silver and Black over the final quarter of the season.

Washington is a dual-threat running back in the truest sense of the word, not only does he have the ability to be an effective runner –his 5.4 yards per carry speak for itself –but he showed that he could also be a viable receiving weapon out of the backfield as well.

Washington is one of those players who can really do a bit of everything, and look for Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing to utilize him in myriad ways once we reach the regular season.

I think 2017 is going to be a big year for No. 33.

Storyline To Follow:

How does Marshawn Lynch look, and how big of a role will he have in the Raiders offense?

While the new No. 24 did indeed sit out the entire 2016 season in retirement, he hasn’t seemed to have lost a step, as we’ve watched him throughout the Silver and Black’s Offseason Workout Program.

The beauty of adding Lynch to the mix is that while he can handle a vast majority of the work out of the backfield, he likely won’t have to with Richard and Washington waiting in the wings.

However, until we get into the regular season, and actually see how Lynch will be used, that will likely be the big question regarding Bernie Parmalee’s group.