With no clarity on the Josh Jacobs contract/franchise tag situation and the bell cow tailback absent, the coaching staff is getting a long look at the other running backs on the roster.
Uncertainty in the Las Vegas Raiders running back room is creating opportunity. Thus, it provides excellent timing for second-year running backs Brittain Brown and Zamir White. Particularly the former in that duo.
Brown got to showcase his wares and give coaches a chance to he’s learned from Year 1 during OTAs and minicamp. He, along with the other running backs, are going to get another solid opportunity to impress, improve, and carry the load in training camp later in July.
Especially if the Raiders and Jacobs don’t agree to a new contract by the July 17 deadline — the deadline for a franchise tag player to work out out a long-term extension his team. Jacobs hasn’t even signed the franchise tag tender, which pays him $10.091 million.
Additional snaps — whether it’s with the first-team or second-team units — is much better than what Brown got during his initial regular season in the NFL. As the 250th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Brown was selected in the same class as White, but unlike his higher drafted counterpart, he didn’t see a single carry last season. Active for just six games, the Duke and UCLA product saw 61 snaps on special teams, zero on offense. This, of course, is largely due to Jacobs commandeering the carries with a stellar 2022 campaign.
Brown was both productive in college in Duke and UCLA churning out 1,126 yards and 10 touchdowns in three seasons with the Blue Devils and 1,126 yards and 11 scores in two seasons with the Bruins and in preseason during his rookie year with the Raiders (152 yards and two rushing touchdowns).
Brown showed the vision, patience, balance and toughness during the preseason slate in 2022 and doing so again in the 2023 go-around will likely go a long way. While White had the more impressive timed speed (4.40 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) at 6-feet, 215 pounds, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Brown clocked a 4.69 40 at the UCLA pro day. But Brown proved to be more patient runner, waiting for blocks and holes to appear, before darting through and gaining yards after initial contact.
That can be Brown’s niche role this coming season: A tough and patient running back who can be a power option in both short-yardage situations and in the red zone. Trusting the blocks to develop front of him wasn’t a strength of White during his rookie campaign and if Brown continues to show that ability, it’s his opportunity to help solidifying his chances of making the final 53.
This is why any and all snaps are vital for Brown heading into Year 2.
He’ll need to showcase he can truly contribute to the offense and is a solid option for the 53-man roster rather than a fringe player. There’s seven running backs on the 90-man roster now and instead of dwindling the roster in stages to the final 53, all NFL teams will go from 90 to the mandated limit.