Raiders running back group continues to shine

The Las Vegas Raiders cruised to their second straight preseason game victory, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 26-20, on Sunday afternoon at Allegiant Stadium. 

And although these early games don’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things, head coach Josh McDaniels was pleased with the depth of his running backs group.

“It’s pretty interesting,” he said. “There are some young guys that are learning but play really hard and give great effort. We have some guys that are kind of multifaceted in terms of what they do and bring. We’ve tried to give them all different opportunities here in the first few games to try to do some of those things. I really like the group, I really like the room.”

Most of the carriers came from guys near the bottom of the depth chart, guys like Brittain Brown and Austin Walter. Brown, a rookie from UCLA, rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown agains the Vikings, along with catching two passes for seven yards. Walter carried the ball seven times for 30 yards.

“I think KP [Kennedy Polamalu] does a great job of coaching that group,” McDaniels said. “I’ve always been a big believer in having as many good backs as you can have on your team because like I’ve said before, they get the ball more than anybody else. They have it more than any other player, other than the quarterback, and usually they’re taking hits and getting contact when they have it.”

Brown was a seventh round draft pick, the second running back taken by the Raiders behind third-rounder Zamir White. White led the team in their first preseason game against Jacksonville, but garnered only 13 yards on five carries on Sunday.

McDaniels said White has progressed in terms of blitz pickup and pass protection during training camp.

“That’s always an area that is new for younger players,” McDaniels said. “Honestly, regardless of the position quite honestly, because of the volume of different things you see. Whether it’s an offensive lineman or a running back, handling protections and being able to do your job well versus all the different looks that we see in our league now, is not easy. Zamir is continuing to work very hard at it, so is Brittain, so are all of our backs quite honestly.”