Through the first six weeks of the season running back Jalen Richard has been one of the few bright spots on the Raiders offense, and in the second half of the season the third-year player is going to be asked to step up even more.
Monday afternoon the Silver and Black placed veteran running back Marshawn Lynch on the Reserve/Injured list, which comes as difficult blow considering The Beast's production has been exceptional. Just a couple weeks ago, Lynch was a top five leading rusher in the NFL, and prior to his injury he was averaging 4.3 yards per carry. While Lynch has been the primary ball carrier this season, Richard has been the go-to receiving back.
Among all Raiders receivers, Richard is second in receptions with 31, just one behind tight end Jared Cook. No. 30 is also the team's third-leading receiver with 253 yards. His bread and butter this season has been catching passes out of the backfield — he has only 11 carries this season for 32 yards — but his usage is going to change in the coming weeks. Richard will continue to share time with veteran running back Doug Martin — and possibly DeAndré Washington — but the 25 year old has shown he can be an explosive weapon in the ground game. In regards to how his role will change with Lynch out, Richard doesn't expect it to change drastically, but he hopes to see more touches.
"Staying the same as far as third downs and stuff," he said Monday. "I'll probably see a little bit more carries I would think, just so we don't overload Doug, and we still have D. Wash coming up probably, so he'll give us a little help that way too. We still got a very strong room, so as far as us being worried about Shawn being out, it's a big loss because you can't bring another Marshawn Lynch into the game. We got a solid room of backs that'll get the job done."
Raiders players return to the practice field to prepare for their Week 8 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts following the bye week.
Richard makes a great point; there's no replacing a player like Lynch, but the team will try to fill the void. Martin will probably get most of the carries — at least in the early going — but Richard and Washington just two years ago were a dynamic two-headed monster for the Silver and Black's ground attack. As rookies, the duo combined for 958 rushing yards, three rushing touchdowns, 309 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. With Lynch out and since Amari Cooper is no longer a Raider , the offense is going to need more players to step up.
The Raiders offense is putting up 373.5 yards per game, good for 15th in the league. With Lynch set to miss most of the season with a groin strain, and Cooper now in Dallas, it'll be interesting to see what happens to the offense's production in the coming weeks. This Sunday the Silver and Black will welcome Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum — the team's first real home game since Week 4.
No one on the team was proud of its performance in Week 6 against the Seattle Seahawks, and they'll try to get the bad taste out of their mouth this weekend. It's clear Head Coach Jon Gruden has tried to get his unit rolling early, making it a priority to put points on the board fast, but I anticipate him also trying to get guys like Richard and Martin started fast out of the gate.