Wednesday the Raider took the field for their first practice of training camp. At which one thing stood out — the lack of running backs.
Everyone was present and accounted for on the field who was not on either PUP or NFI with the exception three running backs — Kenyan Drake, Jalen Richard, and Theo Riddick.
Soon, Kenyan Drake was spotted on the sideline, suggesting he has an injury of some kind. It would soon be revealed that he will start camp on the NFI list as well, despite not initially being among the names given out.
As for Richard and Riddick, it would also soon be revealed why they were not there; they were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The day prior, head coach Jon Gruden said that “four or five guys” on the team are not vaccinated. And if anyone were to hazard a guess as to who those 4-5 players are, Jalen Richard’s name would likely be the first mentioned.
Back in 2019, Richard made his feelings known about vaccinations, tweeting out “None of my kids will be vaccinated” and in a follow-up Tweet cited supposed research and religious beliefs as his reasoning adding “sorry not sorry.”
This month he made it pretty clear his viewpoints on the subject had not changed. Less than a week ago, he tweeted out that unvaccinated players are “playing in jail” and urged all unvaccinated players to read and follow the rules and protect themselves.
Since that posting, Richard’s Twitter appears to have been deleted.
Meanwhile, Richard’s head coach is taking great pride in having his entire staff vaccinated and what he thinks is a very high number of his players as well.
Gruden knows firsthand that COVID-19 is nothing to take lightly. He came down with the virus just prior to camp last year. He also had to deal with weekly positive tests and players missing games from being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list including former right tackle Trent Brown knocking out the entire starting Oline for a week of practices as close contacts.
Brown was traded this offseason for among other things his lack of work ethic. No doubt his carelessness with regard to COVID played a part as well. Could it be Richard caught the virus and then Riddick was lost as well due to being a close contact?
NFL teams do not reveal right off if players tested positive or if they were a close contact. We should know that in the coming days. For now, the Raiders are suddenly down three running back right out the gates of camp. That can’t be sitting well with Gruden.