HENDERSON, Nev. — Las Vegas Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels put an end to speculation Monday that former Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs was being showcased for a possible trade by playing so many snaps in the team’s preseason opener.
“We have a lot of confidence in J.J.,” McDaniels said. “And, you know, he did well with his opportunities, which we hoped he would.
“But no, we have no desire to do that at all.”
Jacobs, who did not have his fifth-year option picked up by Las Vegas’ new regime of McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler, had five carries, gaining 30 yards, and caught two passes totaling 14 yards in the Raiders’ 27-11 Hall of Fame Game victory last week over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And while speculation swirled around Jacobs over the weekend, he was not the only presumptive offensive starter to see significant playing time in Canton, Ohio. Because while quarterback Derek Carr and receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow suited up but sat, four of the five starters on the offensive line were in — center Andre James played three series — and four other running backs saw action.
Rookie Zamir White led Las Vegas with 75 all-purpose yards (52 yards rushing on 11 carries and three catches for 23 yards) while Austin Walter ran for 49 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and caught a pass for 3 yards. Kenyan Drake, who is returning from a broken right ankle, had 9 yards rushing on five carries, and Ameer Abdullah had an 8-yard TD run and caught two passes for 23 yards.
“As I said after the game, I really do believe that the backs … don’t really get to simulate what’s going to happen during the course of the regular season,” McDaniels said. “And so, giving them an opportunity to actually get tackled, take care of the football and get acclimated to a new system, quite honestly, I think is the goal. Each man’s different.
“We’ll try to do what’s best for the team. We felt like that was a good thing, a good opportunity for all our backs that played.”
Earlier in camp, Jacobs said he had no ill will toward the organization after it chose to not pick up his option, instead letting him play out the contract this season.
Jacobs, who missed most of the offseason program dealing with an undisclosed injury, has looked motivated and faster in camp.
“I’m a firm believer in the work that you put in is going to pay out for itself, and I had to be here either way,” Jacobs said at the time. “And this is where I want to be. I didn’t have a problem with it. It just gave me more of a reason to come in every day, gel with the guys and work.”