HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — When Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs took the field for the first two series of the Hall of Fame Game in August, questions arose about whether he was going to be a part of first-year coach Josh McDaniels’ offensive structure.
“I definitely sat there when they told me that I was playing, I was just like, ‘Damn OK, well ... I’m about to go put on a show now,‘” Jacobs said Wednesday. “I might as well go in and get my couple reps and whatever I do with it, kind of just stamp it.”
After all, Jacobs’ fifth-year option wasn't picked up, and he was coming off a season that was littered with injuries to his toe, ankle and chest.
Plus, with Davante Adams arriving in the offseason, there were also questions about how relevant the running game might be with the Raiders.
Fast forward to last Sunday, when the Raiders earned their first win of the season, it’s quite clear Jacobs and the running game are every bit a part of McDaniels' scheme.
Jacobs ran for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns in Las Vegas’ 32-23 victory over AFC West-rival Denver.
“I always have the best seat,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Sometimes he makes some cuts and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how you saw that one.'”
Carr said watching Jacobs scat as he does, making defenders miss, and creating things just when a play seems dead, generally breathes life into the offensive unit, providing a spark at the right time.
Jacobs' 28 rushing attempts against the Broncos tied for the second-most in his career. And though he admitted he got tired at times, he was prepared to carry the workload no matter how big.
“I’ve been around some guys that run two or three carries and then give you one of these (taps helmet) and come out for a play or two,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. “J.J. just doesn’t have that; he wants to stay out there. It’s almost like he gets better as the drive goes.”
Jacobs said working on his body during the offseason and switching up his diet allowed him to establish lean muscle mass while recuperating his body and preparing for the rigors of a 17-game season.
When the team announced the fifth-year option that would have cost roughly $8 million wasn’t being picked up, he used it as motivation to prove what he is capable of on the field.
“I wasn’t really too much worried about (it),” Jacobs said. “In any offense the run game, really, it’s the heartbeat of the offense. It gets everything else going. I know the things that I do, I know the value that I bring, and I just try to show that to the guys each and every day. And I feel like if I do that, then everything else will take care of itself.”
Jacobs heads into Week 5 ranked fifth in the league with 336 yards rushing and 84.0 yards per game. His 70 rushing attempts rank seventh highest in the league, and his teammates are well aware he can shoulder the burden in any given game, including Monday's showdown in Kansas City against the first-place Chiefs.
“If you’re a team that wants to be balanced, and to establish how tough you are as a team, you got to be able to run the ball well and you got to be able to stop the run,” Adams said. “And that’s two big parts, ingredients to be able to beat teams like the Chiefs or the Broncos for that matter. So, that’s what we need out of Josh. If given the proper opportunities, you got to go out there and maximize them. He definitely did that, so I’m proud of the way he played.”
Jacobs also knows he’s helping Las Vegas' pass attack when opponents collapse to focus on the rushing game.
“Obviously, we got a lot of weapons on the outside,” Jacobs said. “The defense can scheme and drop back into coverage and take that away, and when they do, we got to be able to run it right at them and leave our mark. And when they bring the safety down and now they’re open. It’s complimentary football, that’s what we try to do game in and game out.”
NOTES: Carr’s leading target last season, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow, shed his non-contact jersey Thursday and was a full participant for the first time since suffering a concussion in the Raiders’ 29-23 overtime loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 18. ... TE Foster Moreau (knee) and S Roderic Teamer (illness) did not participate in practice on Thursday. Waller, LB Jayon Brown, OT Justin Herron (knee), LB Denzel Perryman (concussion), CB Sam Webb (hamstring) and CB Rock Ya-Sin (knee) were limited.
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