Count Josh Jacobs among the many who were confused by the Las Vegas Raiders’ trading 60 percent of their starting offensive line this offseason.
“I’m not going to lie to you, when it first happened I was like, ‘Damn, what are we doing?’ the Raiders’ star running back said in a media briefing on Tuesday.
Yet, Jacobs said he quickly started to understand the new vision of the team’s offensive line (younger, cheaper and more athletic) and he is comfortable running behind the new-look unit this season.
“When I saw guys that they picked up and I watched the game film of each new guy that came in, seeing them practice, I was watching a couple of practices still on the iPad and things like that, and I saw how they were working,” Jacobs said. “I said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to be nice.’ Just trying to come in and get them acclimated to our team and our scheme and our system, but I think the guys will do good.”
Of course, the Raiders traded center Rodney Hudson (Arizona Cardinals), right guard Gabe Jackson (Seattle Seahawks), and right tackle Trent Brown (New England Patriots) this offseason. Andre James is set to replace Hudson, Denzelle Good or John Simpson will replace Jackson and first-round pick Alex Leatherwood (who played with Jacobs at Alabama) is the new right tackle. Richie Incognito is at left guard and Kolton Miller is at left tackle.
The person most affected by all the offensive-line change is of course quarterback Derek Carr. He played with Jackson his entire career (they were drafted together in 2014) and Hudson joined the team in 2015. Carr knows there will be an adjustment, but he is hopeful the new offensive line be a strong suit of the franchise as it has been in recent years.
“Very excited for those guys. But again, we have to go prove it,” Carr said. “I love Rodney [Hudson]. I love Gabe [Jackson]. Those are some of my best friends I’ve ever had, and they will be until I’m 80 years old. But those guys are on new teams.
I’m really excited about Andre [James]. Obviously, Richie [Incognito] is back, Denzelle [Good], John Simpson, I could name all these guys. They’ve been in this building, as much as they’ve been allowed, they’ve been in here every day working their tail off. I think they’re excited to show everybody that they can play too ... They’re really good football players and we have [offensive line] Coach [Tom] Cable. He’s going to make sure we’re ready to play.”
Jacobs is thrilled that he has been reunited with Alex Leatherwood and he thinks the rookie has the right mindset to be a starter right away.
“I was just happy that he got drafted here. Just to hear his mentality coming in is what kind of impressed me,” Jacobs said. “We had a couple of hour-long talks before he got drafted about what he wanted to do and how he wanted to present himself and the task he put on himself. I’m interested to see how he lives up to his expectations.”
That goes for the entire new-look unit in the desert.