Running Back DeAndré Washington
Heading into the Oakland Raiders Week 5 matchup with the San Diego Chargers, we posed five questions that we were hoping to have answered Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Silver and Black took care of business, felling Philip Rivers and Co., 34-31, so let's see if our five questions were indeed answered.
1. Who will lead the Raiders rushing attack?
After not practicing all week, running back Latavius Murray was ruled out of Sunday's matchup with the Chargers, meaning that the Raiders offense would rely heavily on their tandem of rookie running backs, Jalen Richard and DeAndré Washington.
While Washington did officially get the start, the workload between the rookies was split nearly 50/50, as Richard carried the ball times for 31 yards, with Washington carrying it nine times for 23 yards. Fullback Jamize Olawale also got in the mix, contributing with six carries for 22 yards, and the lone rushing touchdown on the afternoon.
"We just wanted to move and push those chains," said Washington postgame. "I think collectively we did a good job of picking up the slack with Latavius [Murray] down, so I think we did a good job between the running backs."
As the game wore on, both rookies seemed to find a rhythm, and while the group didn't hit the century mark, they provided enough production on the ground to keep the Chargers defense honest.
2. How does the team attempt to replace Lee Smith?
Look, replacing Lee Smith is no easy task.
The veteran tight end did a lot of the little things right, and was a valuable asset in pass protection, and replacing his productivity will take several players to step up; Head Coach Jack Del Rio said as much during the week.
Well, in their first game since Smith was placed on the reserve/injured list, the Raiders did indeed use a variety of players to replace his production, mainly rookie guard Denver Kirkland.
Kirkland played 27 snaps against the Chargers, and was used almost exclusively as an extra lineman, assisting in pass protection, very similar to what Smith did during his time on the field.
Tight end Ryan O'Malley also saw his first regular season action as a Raider, playing seven offensive snaps, mostly in the early stages of Sunday's game.
3. Can Amari Cooper find the end zone?
Yes, Cooper found the end zone for the first time in the regular season, and the second-year wide receiver did it in exciting fashion.
With 11:34 left in the third quarter, and the Raiders trailing by eight, Cooper lined up in the slot, across from Chargers safety Adrian Phillips.
After the ball was snapped, Cooper put a nasty move on the safety, gaining enough separation for Carr to throw him a beautiful pass that the wideout then proceeded to haul in, and then gallop into the end zone for a score.
The 64-yard reception was Cooper's first visit to the end zone of the regular season, and the explosive wide receiver was mere inches away from having another two scores in Sunday's matchup.
It was just a matter of time before Cooper found the end zone, and at day's end, No. 89 had caught six passes, for a career-high 138 yards, and the aforementioned touchdown.
4. Will Perry Riley see the field?
Not only did the veteran linebacker start, and play 51 defensive snaps just days after signing with the Silver and Black, Riley also led the team with seven tackles, and forced a fumble to boot.
"He [Riley] did a good job," Head Coach Del Rio said postgame. "I think he led our team in tackles. Veteran guy. He's got fire. You can just see the fire in him and his desire to soak up everything he could this week and be prepared to help us today. Malcolm [Smith] was dressed and available in an emergency, but really didn't want to play him if we didn't have to. That was the plan coming in. We held up fairly well throughout the day and so Perry stayed in there throughout."
Riley was no doubt impressive in his first game as a Raider.
He was constantly around the football, making plays in the run game, and No. 54 was pleased with his first taste of Raider Nation.
"The crowd was definitely into t the whole game," Riley said. "It was a close game for the majority game, so it was fun to have them on our backs and on our sides and giving us the extra push we needed in the fourth quarter."
5. Can the team win its first game at home?
The Raiders made it exciting, which has become their trademark five games into the regular season, but a botched field goal attempt by the San Diego Chargers in the final minutes, secured the Silver and Black's first win of the year at home.
While the Raiders offense did get off to a slow start, Carr still finished the day with over 300 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the defense came up with big plays when absolutely necessary.
"We're 1-1 at home," Head Coach Del Rio said. "We need to continue to put together wins at home. Our crowd was tremendous. There's nothing like giving them the present of a great effort and a big win when we're at home."
Del Rio and Co., will have the chance to give Raider Nation yet another gift Sunday, as they return to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum to host the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6 action.