This week the two backs the Raiders have used as a ‘change of pace’ will be the only pace. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington will share the load this week in the absence of Marshawn Lynch who is suspended for making contact with an official Thursday night against the Chiefs.
Even with the Raiders running the ball rather sparingly this season, Lynch still leads the team in carries by a considerable margin. His 72 carries is more than twice that of Richard who is next with 35 carries. Washington has just 23 carries.
“We love Marshawn,” said Derek Carr. “We love playing with him, we love him in the building, we love him on game day. So for him to have to miss this game, it’s hard. But as coach Del Rio probably said, it’s next man up. We have a good stable of backs that can do it.”
With Lynch’s ejection occurring in the second quarter, both Richard and Washington saw season highs with 9 carries each. Richard picked up 31 yards and Washington had 33 yards and a touchdown. Both had around their usual impact in the receiving game.
It’s very different being the injection of energy and speed than it is to be the primary backs. Head coach Jack Del Rio sees more than that.
“They don’t have the size and the power but they have a little more quickness,” said Del Rio, “they catch the ball a little easier, better route-runners, things like that. So, if you’re playing a little more wide open, in some respects they give you a little more juice. Marshawn give you the power back when you want to finish people and in tough situations. Those guys give you more than a change of pace.”
This isn’t the first time these two have had to step up and take over as the Raiders’ running back by committee. Last season Latavius Murray missed weeks 5 and 6 against the Chargers and Chiefs. The Raiders beat the Chargers and lost to the Chiefs, just as they did in their second meetings with both teams last season.
In those games DeAndre Washington carried the ball 19 times for 72 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and caught 5 passes for 29 yards, while Richard carried the ball 12 times for 38 yards (3.2 ypc) and added 8 catches for 71 yards. So, not great numbers, but the experience was valuable.
“That helped us, and experience always matters,” Jalen Richard said of filling in for Murray last season. “The more you can get on that field, the more you can play in this league and the years that you can can pile up definitely matters when you start talking about years of experience and situations and just getting the feel of the game. Everything matters. So, last year when Tay went down it definitely got us prepared for this situation.”
Neither Richard nor Washington are imposing figues. They’re both 5-8 and are within about 5 pounds of each other. Del Rio joked Wednesday that if it weren’t for them wearing different numbers, he may not be able to tell them apart on the field.
Both backs also averaged over five yards per carry last season. DeAndre Washington averaged 5.4 yards per carry and Richard’s 5.9 yards per carry led the league among running backs (minimum 20 carries).
“They’re great young men,” Del Rio continued. “They both came in here...I think when DeAndre got here he was the draft pick, Jalen got here and he was just hungry for an opportunity and they both proved that they’re valuable assets. They’re good players, they’re dependable. They’re somewhat interchangeable in that they’re stature is similar, their size and speed and all that is similar. But for me I’m just proud to have them. Those two young men have done a nice job of preparing to be ready for this moment and they’re going to get more opportunities.”