Running back DeAndre Washington
The Oakland Raiders have a three-headed monster in the backfield.
We all know about the physicality, brute strength, and overall dominance of running back Marshawn Lynch. We also know that second-year running back Jalen Richard proved a season ago that undrafted free agents can make a major impact. But if there's one thing you should know about former Texas Tech running back DeAndré Washington, it's this; he's ready for big things in 2017.
Off the field, No. 33 might not be the flashiest, or most outspoken individual, and that's why he spent the majority of his offseason honing his craft in the shadows.
"I like to keep it low key," said Washington. "I just really tried to work on my overall game, changed up my diet, that was the biggest thing."
During his rookie campaign in 2016, Washington rushed for a total of 467 yards, and two touchdowns, with an additional 115 receiving yards on 17 receptions. Both of his rushing touchdowns came in a breakout performance against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 16 when he rushed for 99 yards, falling just one shy of the century mark.
Even though that one game provided many of the highlights from Washington's season, he wants you to know there's more of that to come.
"That was definitely just a taste," he said with a grin. "Just the beginning, hopefully we can get a lot more games like that."
Part of Washington's confidence stems from his solid performance throughout training camp, a year of experience under his belt, and a veteran back helping him learn the ropes. For a lot of players, the game continues to slow down as they progress further in their career, which instills a better understanding of what's going on around them, providing a certain level of comfortability.
"I feel good man, a lot more comfortable, a lot more relaxed, kind of know what to expect, know what's going on," said Washington. "Last year you're coming in competing for a spot on the team, which we still are, but you don't know what to expect as a rookie. You got a year under your belt, you kind of know how to prepare and get yourself ready for day-to-day work."
From the start of camp, he's done just that, as he's come in to work on a daily basis and opened eyes; whether he's accelerating down the sideline after hauling in a dump off pass, or holding his own in pass protection.
The quality of production he's put on display has caught not only the attention of quarterback Derek Carr, but Head Coach Jack Del Rio as well.
"He's doing a great job," said Carr. "Not only in running the football. Obviously, he had a good touchdown for us in the red zone period, but he's doing great things in pass protection for a guy of his stature. Usually you think a smaller guy, I don't know, but he's real stocky. He's strong. So when he gets his hands on guys, he does a pretty good job. I think that he's had a phenomenal camp."
"He's a guy that we really liked coming out," Del Rio added. "He's got some juice. He runs compact and is not always easy to get down. We think he's having a real good camp. As we went back and reviewed what he did last year when he got the ball, he did some nice things with the ball in his hands. We're excited for DeAndré to continue to grow."
And the support of his signal-caller, and Del Rio, is reassuring for the 24 year old entering his sophomore season. Growth is necessary in order to thrive at the highest level, and that'll most certainly come with time.
The Houston-native runs as if something is nipping at his heels, hungry to break just one more tackle, or stretch for that extra yard. With a fresh season on the horizon, Washington is determined to show why he belongs on the gridiron with the best of the best, and wants you to know one more thing.
"I'm an every down back," he said with confidence. "I think sometimes you get that label of being a scat back, or a third down back, but I feel like I'm an every down back, and I can be an every down back in this league and be productive."
People tend to like surprises, but don't be surprised if Washington goes on a tear in 2017.