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Following a year of frustration and loss, DeAndré Washington feels stronger entering Year Four

When the Oakland Raiders selected Josh Jacobs with the No. 24 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft many people wondered what the team would do with its crowded running backs room.

Would the team move on from Jalen Richard or DeAndré Washington? With Doug Martin back in the fold, how will there be enough reps for everyone?

Following the Raiders first practice back from Canada on Sunday, we have a little more clarity.

To kick off the final week of preseason action, the team released long snapper Andrew Depaola, and in a corresponding move placed Doug Martin on the Reserve/Injured list. No one wants to see a fellow teammate go, but for Washington, this essentially confirmed that he'd impressed the coaching staff enough in two preseason performances to potentially earn a spot on the Raiders' roster.

"That's my guy, man," Washington said to the media. "Doug during the two years he was here, he taught me a lot, just how to be a pro. I wish him nothing but the best – he knows that, I spoke with him already. I'm thankful to be able to play with him and guys like Marshawn [Lynch], Latavius Murray, and it's just kind of picking up a little bit from each of them would be huge for my career."

With Martin out of the mix, Washington's chances of suiting up in the Silver and Black for the fourth year increase substantially, but the work is far from over; however, the former Texas Tech Red Raider has overcome a lot in the past year to get him to this point.

A year ago, Washington's sister, Taiesha Watkins, was killed in a shooting just before the start of the season. Understandably, this was difficult to cope with, and on top of the death of his sister, DeAndré was struggling to stay on the field due to lingering injuries.

One year later, he's able to reflect on the last 12 months and feel grateful because it helped him learn a great deal about himself.

"It was tough," he shared. "Dealing with that and some personal issues it was a rough year, but I definitely think it mentally made me a lot stronger.

He continued, "It's a long season, man, so it can definitely wear on you. So, like I said, I think mentally it definitely prepared me for a much stronger year, coming this year."

2018's roller coaster of emotions on and off the field made his third season in the NFL arguably his hardest yet, but 2019 appears to have the makings of a bounce-back year for No. 33, and the coaching staff is eager to utilize him.

Everyone wants to make a big deal about the fact it's Derek Carr's second year in Gruden's offense, but it's going to benefit the offense as a whole, and with a healthy mind and body, Washington is ready for what lies ahead.

Roster cuts won't be made official until Saturday afternoon, but I think we can pencil in Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, and DeAndré Washington as the Raiders' three-headed monster for 2019.

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