Las Vegas Raiders running back Kenyan Drake suffered a gruesome broken ankle during the Raiders’ Week 13 loss to the Washington Commanders, then Washington Football Team. The injury would put Drake on injured reserve and cost him the rest of the season.
The timing couldn’t have been much worse as the Raiders were battling for a playoff spot and the back had just started to find his groove in the offense. In the six previous contests combined, he had racked up 342 total yards and three touchdowns, serving as an excellent complementary player to Josh Jacobs.
In an exclusive interview, which will be released via podcast Monday morning, I asked Drake if the timing of the injury was frustrating, and how he’s trying to shake that to get prepared for this season.
“Like you said, I was really starting to kind of get into the offense,” the Raiders’ rusher responded. “I felt like when you get on that road and things kind of happen, not according to plan, it’s a bigger plan ahead. And I kind of believe in that whole heartily, and I’m just interested to see how this injury and the rest of the season plays out from here.”
The severity and when Drake’s injury occurred wasn’t the only thing significant about it. Shortly after the game, he posted a video on social media asking the NFL to look into the style of tackling that led to his broken ankle.
Graphic Video Warning: The #NFL needs to look at this specific style of tackling. They are throwing flags for taunting and protecting qbs from getting touched but this is my 2nd straight season being injured by a guy pulling me back and using his body weight to roll up my legs. pic.twitter.com/zgJt4rM9yG— Kenyan Drake™ (@KDx32) December 6, 2021
“No, hasn’t been anything on my end,” Drake said when asked if the NFL has followed up with him about his concern. “I don’t know if they’ve talked about it entirely. I don’t know if there’s really anything they can do about it, to be honest. Because obviously, I agree to the sense that defensive players are kind of handicapped in the way they can tackle.
“Everything can be dependency, especially when it comes to the quarterback and tackling them. I get it. But at the same time player safety is the priority. It should at least be some discussion. It hasn’t been discussed with me personally, but hopefully, it’s something internal that has been discussed to kind of start getting the ball rolling, in a sense.”
To reiterate his sentiment about how defensive players are handcuffed when it comes to the tackling rules, Drake also made it a point to say that he doesn’t think there was any malicious intent behind the tackle.
Now, the sixth-year veteran is focused on preparing for the Raiders' upcoming season and getting back on the field as soon as possible.
“I’m definitely going to be ready for camp. It’s not going to be full speed ahead once I get into camp, but for the regular season, I’m going to be definitely ready to go,” Drake told me about his timetable to return.
“A couple of preseason games or however I feel need to kind of get back into football shape. But really I’m excited about the opportunity to kind of get back on the field. I’ve been hurt for the [majority] of seven months now...So I feel great just working through the things that you usually go through when you’re coming off a major injury and just ready to kind of get back on the field. It’s not my first rodeo.”
Back at Alabama in 2014, Drake missed the team’s final nine games of the season with a broken ankle, so he literally has been in this position before. He put up 648 total yards from scrimmage while sharing the backfield with Derrick Henry, who won the Heisman trophy, and Damien Harris the following year. So, Drake does have experience bouncing back strong from this injury.
The full interview will be available on Monday, July 18th at midnight EST on the Silver and Black Pride podcast, where Drake dives into his charitable work this offseason, some expectations for this season and how he wanted to be an astronaut growing up!