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Josh McDaniels talks Josh Jacobs’ return

The Raiders head coach shares some insights into his running back’s workload

San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

As the Las Vegas Raiders wrapped up training camp and the preseason this weekend, arguably the biggest highlight from the Raiders came off the field. All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs and the club agreed to a one-year contract worth up $12 million, ensuring that the 2022 rushing champ will suit up for the team’s season opener in less than two weeks.

There was a buzz is Las Vegas on Sunday —t he day the deal became official — as the Raiders posted videos on social media of general manager Dave Ziegler greeting Jacobs with a big hug outside the building, and of the back receiving his new No. 8 jersey that he’ll be sporting this season. Raider Nation was excited to have one of their superstar players back in the fold, as well.

And the enthusiasm for Jacobs’ return didn’t stop at the fanbase as head coach Josh McDaniels was asked about his thoughts on the matter and replied,

“I love the player and I love the person,” said McDaniels. “I’m excited that he’ll be back here soon and look forward to acclimating him into our group. There are some new faces that he hasn’t quite met yet and I know he’s eager to do that as well. Super excited. Love the kid. He’s obviously a great football player. He meant a lot to our football team last year and he’s going to mean a lot to our team this year.”

The biggest downside of Jacobs missing all of training camp is now the Raiders only have a couple of weeks to get him up to speed before the season opener against the Denver Broncos. The team will hold three practices this week and then three more on the days leading up to the game, giving the back just six practices to get into playing shape and re-acclimated with his teammates.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Josh Jacobs vs Broncos, 2022
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

That’s a pretty quick turnaround and, after the Cowboys game, McDaniels was asked if there is enough time to get Jacobs ready for Week 1.

“It’s going to be hard for me to say that until I have an opportunity to see him,” the coach explained. “Obviously, his conditioning and just the way his body feels will play a role in that, too. The goal will be to get him in and get going and we’ll do the right thing. Whatever the right thing is. If there needs to be a number of plays early in the season, then that’s it. If there’s not, then there’s not. I don’t think any of us will know the answer to that yet.

The good news is Jacobs stayed on top of his workout regimen while away from the team and McDaniels said “he looked great” when they saw each other at the team’s facilities the next day.

As far as how big the running back’s workload will be, based on the head coach’s comments below, it sounds like Jacobs will still see his fair share of touches this season but won’t lead the league in the metric as he did a year ago, at least not initially.

“We’ve got a long season ahead of us, but he’s the kind of guy that works extremely hard all the time to put himself in a great position to help our team,” McDaniels said, “and so we’ll be eager to see that. But again, we’re not going to do anything unnecessary. If it’s not quite ready to do a 60-play load, then we’ll make the smart decisions.

“But if I know him, he’ll want to be ready to roll and the plan will be to go forward as his body and the feedback we’re getting from the medical people and strength and conditioning staff as they see fit. So, just excited to see him. He looked great, he had a big smile on his face.”

Jacobs torched the Broncos for 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 52 carries (4.9 yards per rush) and an additional eight catches and 82 yards as a receiver in two games last year. So, Denver is one of a few places that isn’t excited to see him back with the Silver and Black.