Elijah Hood thought the best thing to do was send a text.
I mean, in 2017, that’s what most people do when they get good news, right? So that’s exactly what the Oakland Raiders running back did earlier this week; he sat down, added his mom, dad, as well as a few other close friends and family to a text chain, and typed out five, short words that in all likelihood he’d been waiting to type out since September.
“Update: I’m on the 53”
He understandably received a bevy of congratulatory messages back, so many in fact, that the former North Carolina Tar Heel was a little caught off guard.
“I guess word just spreads because people were just texting me out of the blue and things like that,” Hood said. “It’s a lot bigger deal than even I thought. That’s really cool that everyone’s still keeping up with me that much. I appreciate all the support, honestly.”
With Marshawn Lynch serving a one-game suspension after coming in contact with an official in last week’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Silver and Black had an empty spot on the active roster, as well as a need for some additional running back depth headed into Week 8.
Enter: Elijah Hood.
Although the rookie running back spent the first seven weeks of the regular season on the Raiders practice squad – his last meaningful, live reps came in the final week of the preseason – he’s less than a year removed from wrapping up a career at UNC that saw him become one of the most-productive backs in program history.
That being said, Hood knows that the NFL game – and the talent up and down each team’s roster – is a far cry from what he saw in the ACC, but he’s doing everything he can this week to get prepared for his possible NFL debut.
“I do a lot to make sure that I can be as prepared as possible, and I lean a lot on the veterans to help me be as prepared as I possibly can be,” Hood explained. “Every year you get in the league, you just gain something, and those guys, I just rely on them, even Jalen [Richard] and DeAndré [Washington]. They’re relatively new, but they’ve been here a year longer so they know about how some of the reads work at game speed, and stuff like that. I haven’t really had much in-game action reps type action, so there are definitely some people I’m going to rely on for sure to help me.”
Hood has unsurprisingly spent more time than usual in the playbook this week, getting up to speed on the idiosyncrasies of the team’s offensive schemes in advance of taking on a very stout Buffalo Bills defensive front; quite the challenge for any player, especially a rookie about to potentially see his first NFL action.
“They let their D-line do what they do,” Hood said of the Buffalo defense. “That’s another thing; they have one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Across the board, all those guys can probably cause a problem on any given Sunday…. A lot of it rides on that D-line being a force.”
Everything surrounding Sunday’s game at New Era Field is going to be memorable for Hood. From waking up, to the bus ride over to the stadium, and if all goes to plan, this weekend will be a memorable one for the Raiders seventh-round draft pick.
“My energy level is going to be different,” Hood explained. “How I wake up in the morning, how everything is, it’s going to be different, because I’m playing now. It’s on. It ain’t no game to me. I’m serious. I love this. I don’t know how to even describe it.”
He continued, “You have to entertain. It’s time to show what you’ve been practicing. I’ve looked at this playbook for I don’t know how many hours this week. I better put it to use.”