The Oakland Raiders had their chances Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, but they weren't able to capitalize. From start to finish it was an offensive game, as Derek Carr and Aaron Rodgers tried to best the other. Unfortunately, the Packers got the last laugh, defeating the Silver and Black 42-24, but even though it was a disappointing afternoon, one of the biggest positives was the return of right guard Gabe Jackson.
Jackson has dealt with an injury all year long that he suffered during training camp, and Sunday was his first regular season game of the year. Back alongside his teammate Rodney Hudson, the two commanded the line of scrimmage and gave Carr plenty of time to operate in the pocket, and open running lanes for rookie stud Josh Jacobs. Carr went all day without being sacked, and he made sure to praise Jackson, as well as the offensive line as a whole postgame.
"Man, it was awesome," Carr said when asked what it was like getting Jackson back from injury. "Shoutout to our offensive line. When Trent [Brown] went down, David Sharpe — who's had some better days, some harder days early on in his career — has kept fighting and tried to be a better player, and came out today and played great. So, I got to give credit to all of those guys. To have them all back, to play the way that they did, I think they did an outstanding job. I think everyone would agree with that, but those guys are doing a great job. Coach [Tom] Cable and those guys are doing a great job preparing those guys, all of them, just in case because we didn't know if Trent was going to play. He practiced a little bit this week so we didn't know. David and Brandon [Parker] were rolling in there, so we didn't know what was going on.
"But for them to come out, have Gabe [Jackson] back, and have that continuity… There was a few plays that happened just because of playing so much together, where we broke the huddle, he looked at me, and we were able to check to a play and get a scoring touchdown before anyone knew what was going on. Just getting that continuity again, we can see things that we've seen before, and it's nice."
Prior to the Week 7 matchup, Head Coach Jon Gruden hinted for a few weeks that Jackson would return soon, and he did in a big way. Coach Gruden also said Jackson has looked in the best shape of his life while trying to rehab, but the 2014 third-round pick still feels like he has room to get better.
"I've got a lot more room to improve," Jackson said. "Just feeling better and getting back in a rhythm. It'll take time, but I'm just glad to be out there."
Despite being sidelined for six weeks, Jackson didn't experience a drop off in communication with his teammates, staying in his playbook at the facility while rehabbing, and his years of experience with center Rodney Hudson had the two working in lockstep.
Jackson also got to experience blocking for Josh Jacobs for the first time, and even though he's been blown away watching from afar, the first-round pick impressed him quickly Sunday afternoon.
"He's a stud," he said with a big smile. "I remember the first long run he broke today, I was blocking and I fell down and I looked up and he was still running. He got some juice to him and he's a hard runner."
Hopefully when Trent Brown returns and the offensive line is fully healthy for the first time this season, the Raiders will be able to open up even more space for Jacobs and Carr to go to work. Regardless of today's outcome, the return of Jackson is a major win.