The Las Vegas Raiders got their first bit of on-field action on Thursday as they defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 27-11 in the Hall of Fame Game that kicks off the preseason. The first preseason game usually sees starters rest, but there was one big exception on this night as running back Josh Jacobs played multiple series for Josh McDaniels in his first game as Raiders coach.
Jacobs looked good in his time on the field, rushing the ball six times for 30 yards while also adding a pair of catches for 14 yards. Even still, it was a surprise to see Jacobs on the field while the rest of the Raiders’ main offensive weapons, including Derek Carr, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow, all sat out.
But McDaniels had his reasons for Jacobs getting some work, saying that he likes for running backs to get work in the preseason as there are some things you simply can’t simulate in practice.
“I always think it’s good for backs to carry the ball in the preseason,” McDaniels said after Thursday’s game. “There’s a lot of things that happen when you’re getting tackled and hit that you can’t simulate in practice. I think all our guys had the ball tonight. I think all our guys either caught it or were handed the ball and had to get tackled. We can’t really simulate that or rep that in practice.”
At a time when most backs see little, if any, work in the preseason for fear of injuries, Jacobs suiting up undoubtedly stood out. Even for those backs who do play in the preseason, it usually isn’t until the third game that they get on the field, giving them plenty of time to ramp up during training camp.
But McDaniels has his reasons for doing so, and it does make sense. With hits being limited more and more in practice, getting work is the only way to work on certain things. There is definitely a risk involved, but the positives outweigh them in McDaniels’ eyes.
And as a whole, the Raiders’ run game was a positive on this night as they totaled 159 yards on 4.8 YPC. Fourth-round pick Zamir White led the Raiders with 52 yards on 11 carries, while Austin Walter added 49 yards on eight carries and an eight-yard touchdown run.