The NFL has a new generation of players preparing to carry the torch, but the veterans aren't willing to relinquish that honor just yet.
Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham Jr., and Jarvis Landry have all positioned themselves to be the faces that will help shape the league going forward, but statistically speaking, a couple veterans are still hanging with the young studs.
Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook have been dynamite through the first four games, and their production is right up there with the best in the league. Lynch is currently the fourth-leading rusher in the league, trailing just Elliott, Gurley, and San Francisco 49ers running back Matt Breida. His fourth place ranking is better than Pro Bowlers Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Melvin Gordon – to name a few. Beastmode is averaging 4.4 yards per carry (more than Gurley), and has been an unstoppable object in each of the four games he's played.
Cook might not be top five among players in receiving yards, but he's top 10, and he's had better results than Beckham, A.J. Green, Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Rob Gronkowski, and Jarvis Landry, just to name a few. No. 87 might not be as flashy as some of the other players in the league, but he's the only tight end in the top 10, and at 31 years old he's showing he can hang with the best of them.
The pair of savvy veterans have been arguably two of the most reliable players on the Raiders roster the past two seasons, and their contributions reach much further than the field.
"Those guys, and you guys have watched it as well, are exciting players and bring great energy to the rest of the team on both sides of the football," Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson said Thursday. "Just in their style of play and with the toughness they play [with]. We are very encouraged with where they are at. In terms of their high level of play usually you see guys at that age starting to slow down a little bit. We are really excited with both those guys, where there at in terms of their legs and their strength and how they are playing right now."
Whether it's been on first down or third down, Lynch and Cook have provided consistency, and unmatched effort. Cook's third down reception in overtime against the Browns Sunday was a testament to that, and Marshawn's hard-nosed running style was displayed in Week 4 as well.
Take a look below:
The Beast is one of the most recognizable figures across the NFL landscape, and that's because of his unique style, which Olson also touched on.
"It is extremely unique," Olson said. "We pointed out a play to our team where he got hit about a yard from the sideline and kind of bounced the defender off him. He was literally a foot away from the sideline and could have easily stepped out of bounds but continued to drive forward and get us another two or three yards with defenders right in front of him. That's the player he has always been. The Beast Mode nickname he has earned in this league, he has earned that. That's his style and it's gotten him to where he is at right now. He's not going to change that style and we are certainly happy that he runs with that style."
Olson hit it head on; Lynch has earned his way to NFL stardom on and off the field through grit, tenacity, and his Oakland roots. Cook and Lynch might be 31 and 32 years of age, but they're playing some of their best football. I don't expect them to slow down any time soon, as they continue to defy Father Time.