Notebook: Shilique Calhoun Returns To Practice, Jalen Richard Talks Raiders Run Game

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Running Back Jalen Richard

Watching the Oakland Raiders offense over the past few weeks, it's hard not to notice that Derek Carr is operating almost exclusively from the shotgun on game days.

The reason for that is certainly open to interpretation, but the fact remains that since injuring a finger on his throwing hand in the team's Week 12 win over the Carolina Panthers, the Raiders have elected to keep their starting quarterback from lining up under center.

Carr has fielded questions about the team's choice of formations ad nauseam since the win over the Panthers, and he did so once again earlier this week, noting that the Raiders have been effective running the football, even with their reluctance to put No. 4 under center. 

"We ran for more yards those last three games than before," noted Carr when asked if running from the shotgun had any bearing on the team's struggles at the goal line. "I think it's a myth when it says 'under center' and those kind of things. We ran the ball just fine."

The Raiders signal-caller is speaking the truth too when he's talking about the running game; since Week 13, the Silver and Black are tallying nearly 140 rushing yards per game, and have been able to get their trio of running backs rolling over that span.

"We've done a nice job of blocking both in the gun, pistol, under center, and San Diego played better than we did there on those plays," added offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave when asked about the Raiders goal line offense. "We're going to keep doing what we think puts us in our best position to win."

And if you ask the Raiders running backs, you won't hear any complaints about the play calling, or the formations the team has been primarily operating in as of late.

"There's a benefit to being in the pistol," running back Jalen Richard explained.  "Obviously, the ball carrier gets the ball in his hands faster I would think, but being in pistol, it just opens up some different things."

One of those things it allows that Richard in particular likes? Getting a different view of the defensive front, and being able to control his velocity a little bit more compared to if he were to get the ball from Carr under center.

"You get the ball back here, and you're able to see a lot more, besides Derek coming to you, or you getting downhill too fast," Richard said. "Being in the pistol, you just step, and you've already got the ball, and now I'm in control, and I'm able to move with it. Now I can take in everything, and I can see everything. The pistol definitely has its benefits."

Not only that, but both Richard and fellow rookie running back DeAndré Washington operated almost entirely from the pistol during their college careers at Southern Mississippi and Texas Tech respectively.

"That's all we ran," Richard recounted. "Our quarterback was never under center in college. He was never under center, so all we ran is pistol. We ran power. A lot of the plays we run now are the same plays I ran in pistol in college, and I think it's the same way with DeAndré too."

Injury Report:

Linebacker – Shilique Calhoun – Knee – Limited

Quarterback – Derek Carr – Right Finger – Full

Wide Receiver – Amari Cooper – Shoulder – Limited

Wide Receiver – Michael Crabtree – Finger – Limited

Safety – Karl Joseph – Toe – Did not participate

Defensive Tackle – Stacy McGee – Ankle – Did not participate

Guard/Tackle – Kelechi Osemele – Ankle – Did not participate

Linebacker – Perry Riley Jr. – Hamstring – Limited

Linebacker – Malcolm Smith – Hamstring – Limited

Notable:

-Following his impressive performance Sunday against the San Diego Chargers (six tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, and one forced fumble) the NFL announced Wednesday morning that linebacker Bruce Irvin had been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

-After being sidelined for a few weeks dealing with a knee injury, rookie linebacker Shilique Calhoun returned to the practice field Wednesday in a limited capacity.

-While Calhoun was able to get back to work, Karl Joseph, Kelechi Osemele, and Stacy McGee weren't able to hit the practice field for Wednesday's session.

Quotable:

The Raiders had a record seven players named to the 2017 Pro Bowl, and Wednesday afternoon, Head Coach Jack Del Rio had a chance to his share his thoughts about the team's accolade:

"Very, very proud of our guys. Well deserving. I thought it was awesome that all four of our captains were selected. Three of our offensive linemen. The line is so crucial to what we do. Obviously, some really good, young players in 'Coop' [Amari Cooper] and Derek [Carr] and Khalil [Mack], and then to have a guy like Reggie [Nelson], who has been a tremendous addition to our football team."

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