Running Back Jalen Richard
Oakland Raiders Training Camp 2016 is nearing a week of completion and the players have been showcasing their talent on a day-to-day basis. One player who has caught the attention of his coaches and peers is rookie running back Jalen Richard. He went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft, but was picked up by the Raiders as a free agent and has made the most of his opportunities.
Richard attended the University of Southern Mississippi and over the course of those four years, he flashed potential, but truly revealed what he was capable of in his senior year. Richard split time at the running back position that season, but made the most of his opportunities by eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards and compiling an impressive 14 rushing touchdowns on 185 carries.
Part of what made Richard successful during his senior year of college was his elusiveness and ability to hide behind the offensive line and burst through a hole. These characteristics have attributed and translated over to his success with the Raiders so far.
"There's definitely an advantage if you know how to use it to your advantage, really me and DeAndré [Washington] both. It's crazy how identical we are as far as size, almost weight, and skill set. We use it to our advantage, the guys can't really see us behind the line, we're very precise in our cuts, and we have great vision," said Richard.
As an undrafted rookie, Richard remains confident in his abilities and plays with a chip on his shoulder that constantly fuels him to keep developing. During training camp he has excelled as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and has been a good decision maker when running the ball.
The speed of the game at the pro level has been an adjustment for him, but there's no doubt that Richard can play ball and his fellow teammates agree. He credits much of his success, thus far, to the players and coaches around him who have helped him feel comfortable. Specifically, tight end Lee Smith and fullback Marcel Reece, who have taken him under their wing and imparted wisdom on the 22-year-old.
"He [Lee Smith] had a real conversation with me about just keep doing your thing, you're doing fine man, you look really good out there and between periods and stuff I might end up just standing right next to him. It just so happens that I'm always by Lee, he was like 'hey man I saw you last period, good job, keep it up.'," said Richard.
The former Golden Eagle should be an interesting player to watch going forward as preseason approaches. With running back Latavius Murray appearing to be the bell cow for the team, the Raiders could utilize Richard as a nice complementary back. Now that running back Roy Helu, Jr. is no longer on the roster, this should allow Richard to see some extra carries.
"I've kind of got the lights out of my eyes and it's just back to playing football. You can only be wowed for so long until you've got to knuckle down and handle business… I'm just out there having fun," said Richard.