The past two days of scrimmages with the Rams were dubbed as being the best preparation the team’s starters will have prior to the start of the season. And they were as advertised. The Raiders went toe-to-toe with a high-powered Rams team and came out of it all the better for it.
“It was fun,” said Josh Jacobs. “Because normally I don’t even strap on my helmet for practice. We thud, but we don’t hit hard enough, so we came out there and we got a little physical. It just made it fun for me. It felt like a game. And it really brought the energy and the juice to practice that we needed. It’s been fun. I can’t really wait until the season starts. I don’t know how this preseason will go, if I’m going to play or not, but I’m ready for the season to start for sure.”
Not having his helmet strapped properly on day one of the scrimmage nearly started the first dustup. His helmet came off after a hit from cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Foster Moreau immediately came to his defense. But Jacobs said it was no harm, no foul. And he was even smiling when it happened.
“I know that he didn’t do a malicious shot. Or it would’ve been a different reaction,” said Jacobs. “It wasn’t even like that. He didn’t even hit me hard, it’s just that I didn’t really have my helmet strapped up, so that was on me. I went up to him right after and I’m like ‘you good’ you know what I’m saying? I didn’t want him to be labeled as a dirty player because I knew it wasn’t like that.”
Jacobs didn’t see any action in the first preseason game and that figures to be the case again on Saturday against the Rams. But he did have an eventful couple days of scrimmage.
Day two saw him get nailed in the junk hard enough that he was still walking gingerly a half hour later.
“Yeah, I got hit in my boys. You feel me?” Jacobs said, with all of us thankful we were not feeling it. “So, yeah. Man, I was down there trying to breathe, I couldn’t breathe for a second.”
Running backs get hit, often several times, every play they are on the field, whether they’re carrying the ball or not. And the opposite is true throughout training camp where defenders let up and are forbidden from taking them to the ground.
The Rams are under no obligation to take anything off their hits, so it can shake a player into regular season mode. No one means more to this offense than tight end Darren Waller. The Pro Bowl tight end just got back this week after being out two weeks with an undisclosed injury. Nothing like a good scrimmage to shake the rust off.
“It gets the natural nerves flowing just to kind of get out there and just play football and compete,” said Waller. “So, I’m all about it. All about the process, whatever they want it to look like for us. Whether we play or we don’t, it’s good to get that live action and get someone to come up and thump you a little bit and get into the flow of moving the ball. So, I enjoy it.”
Waller looked like he was enjoying himself. And if he was rusty, it didn’t show. Check out the move he put on safety Jordan Fuller in one-on-ones Thursday.
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) August 19, 2021
Let’s not forget about the defense. No one was looking forward to this than them and they are feeling pretty good with the reps they got the past couple days. Even if some of them got a little overzealous cough-Maxx-Crosby-cough-cough.
“It’s a tricky deal,” said Crosby after Wednesday’s practice. “Obviously we only got three preseason games, they want to see a lot of the younger guys and see them get real live reps. And for us not being able to play really, it is what it is. We’re getting after it in practice, these two days you really get to go out there, ones vs ones and get after it, so it’s special. We got close to 50 reps out there today. You can’t take anything for granted, you just got to go out there, get after it, and get ready for week one.”
Crosby got after it, all right. So much so that on day two a big brawl which he played a major role in reigniting a couple times, ended practice early. I supposed we shouldv’e seen it coming after he said this was when players could throw punches and get away with it. So, yeah, he was really enjoying getting physical.
It wasn’t all primal, though. Sometimes it’s about testing your abilities against guys you haven’t seen every day.
“You get a lot of good work because it kind of breaks the monotony,” said DT Quinton Jefferson. “You’re going up against the same guy every day and sometimes you might not know ‘does this move really work?’ because I go against the same guy every day. So, it’s different to go against a guy who gives you a different look and a guy that might set you different.”
Head coach Jon Gruden told the players to treat this practice like a game. Because many of the veteran starters are unlikely to see game action this week, and perhaps not at all this preseason. In that regard, the past couple days were a rousing success. Now to hope they can sustain that juice for the next three weeks until they take the field for an actual game that counts.