At just 5’8” and 207-pounds, Raiders running back Jalen Richard is often the smallest player on the field. But his impact for the Silver & Black has been far from minute.
Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals was just another example of what Richard brings to the offense. He made the most of his season-high 11 carries, rushing for 61 yards (5.55 yards per carry) and adding another 32 yards on three receptions.
“He did it all for us,” said Jon Gruden Monday. “He is a helluva player, a great competitor and he has really come on as an every-down back, not just a third-down back. There is not much he can’t do for us.”
While the third-year running back has just 29 carries on the season, he is the Raiders second leading receiver with 51 receptions for 432 yards. Richard’s 2.67 yards per route run leads all running backs through week 10 according to Pro Football Focus.
“Richard might be the MVP of our team,” Gruden said. “He really has done well.”
Richard’s opportunities as a runner have been limited this season with veterans Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin in the backfield, but he has gotten his touches and has earned them. Among the 61 running backs with over 50 touches, Richard ranked fourth in yards per touch (6.92) heading into Sunday’s game. It is this versatility and efficiency that has given Gruden deja vu.
“He is a Charlie Garner type back,” Gruden said, citing one of his former running backs from his first stint as Raiders head coach. “He reminds me a lot of Garner, if you all remember him? He’s a guy that I think some day could run for 1,000 yards and catch 1,000 yards worth of passes. He’s a guy we can line up in the slot, we can line him up out wide. He might not be the biggest back, but he plays big. He’s very quick and decisive, and he’s got great vision.”
During the 2001 season — Gruden’s last in Oakland — Garner recorded 839 yards on the ground and 578 through the air. Garner would then add 222 yards on 32 carries (6.9 yards per carry) in the playoffs, The next year, he helped take the Silver & Black to the Super Bowl totaling 962 rushing yards and 941 receiving yards in the regular season on the league’s highest scoring offense and another 271 yards from scrimmage in the playoffs.
With both Lynch and Martin banged up, Richard’s role has expanded in the Raiders offense. Now is the perfect opportunity for Gruden to see if he does indeed have the next Charlie Garner on his hands. But for now, the Raiders head coach is pleased with what he’s seen.