Running Back John Crockett
Down 17-3 in the preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Oakland Raiders offense needed a bolt of energy, and on the second drive of the third quarter, running back John Crockett provided just that.
With the Silver and Black starting down a 3rd and 12, Crockett hauled in a short pass from quarterback Connor Cook, then made a move, and followed his blockers down the field for a 29-yard gain. Just two plays later, the powerful running back capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown, diving into the end zone for the Raiders only touchdown of the evening.
"That's the biggest thing, just to create that spark in the offense," said Crockett postgame. "I really don't care about the individual touchdown with me, per se. I just care about the spark that was lit throughout the offense. We hadn't scored. We had three points, and to go get that touchdown and make the game interesting, that's what I was more happy for."
It's been a hectic month for the former North Dakota State Bison.
After signing with the Raiders as a free agent shortly before the start of Training Camp 2017, Crockett has had to not only deal with the rigors of joining a team so late in the offseason, but getting up to speed on the terminology of the offense as well.
"That's the hardest part for anybody coming in to a new NFL team," Crockett explained. "The curriculum, and the playbook is so complex, and it's so different than probably what you've been accustomed to. You kind of have to figure out what goes with what, and how to break it down, and how to learn it the quickest way possible."
Crockett spent the entire 2016 season on the Green Bay Packers reserve/injured list, meaning that not only was Saturday's action his first as a Raider, but it was also his first time playing meaningful football in a calendar year. And after a wait that long, No. 43 was happy to be back on the gridiron.
"I felt good," Crockett said. "I'm happy to be back out here on the football field. There were some unfortunate injuries in my career, I'm just happy to be amongst a great group of guys, and part of another great organization like this Raiders one is."
Sitting behind Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington on the Raiders depth chart, reps are a precious commodity for Crockett – particularly in practice when all the backs are working – so he knew that coming into Saturday's game against the Cardinals, he would have to make the most of his opportunities.
In total, Crockett played 15 offensive snaps, but on that scoring drive in the third quarter in particular, he certainly made sure he was noticed.
"I wasn't here with these guys during [Organized Team Activites], and things like that," Crockett explained. "So me coming along, and trying to get this offense, and trying to get everything down in close to a week, it's been critical to come in, in a game-type setting, and showcase that, you know, when the bullets are flying around, you can still stay true to your rules, and understand what you're doing out there."
Crockett enjoyed a quality debut in Silver and Black, but for the self-described perfectionist, there are always areas he would like to improve.
"You have to really take hold of your craft," Crockett said. "You have to really look at and analyze, every single thing you did. I felt like there was one play, it was an outside zone, where a guy got my back, and I feel like I should have broken that tackle, and made some things happen."
So how does Crockett keep the momentum going for the next three weeks? Stay focused, stay hungry, and take the same approach to each rep he gets both in practice, and for the rest of the preseason.
"There's games where you play well, and you have to sit back and analyze that, [but] at the end of the day, there's another week, and there's another great opponent you have to go against next week, and you have to have that same mindset," Crockett said. "You can't get too complacent, you can't get too happy about what accomplishments you made in one week, because the next week is going to be just as tough, if not tougher. "