The Las Vegas Raiders began the 2022 preseason with an interesting approach that saw Josh Jacobs get plenty of early work.
Jacobs touched the ball on seven of the Raiders' first 12 plays from scrimmage in Thursday night's Hall of Fame Game, gaining a combined total of 44 yards. The high usage rate raised plenty of eyebrows, leading some to believe Raiders coach Josh McDaniels might be using the preseason opener as an audition for Jacobs, showcasing the running back to potentially interested suitors.
McDaniels shot down this theory on Monday, telling reporters it was nothing more than just a warm-up for the Raiders running back.
"We have a lot of confidence in J.J.," McDaniels said, via ESPN's Kimberley A. Martin. "We have no desire to do that at all."
Jacobs has assumed the role of lead back in Silver and Black since arriving via the 24th-overall pick of the 2019 draft, cracking 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two professional seasons. Jacobs fell short of that mark last season, but he was operating in an offense that found much more success through the air -- Las Vegas finished sixth in passing yards per game and 28th in rushing -- as Las Vegas made a frantic push toward the postseason.
Jacobs enters 2022 with similar expectations, but also has some competition behind him thanks to the additions of rookie Zamir White and veteran Brandon Bolden and return of Kenyan Drake.
The main point of contention regarding Jacobs' future is his contract status. Jacobs is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, which wasn't extended into 2023 after the Raiders declined to pick up his fifth-year option. This sets up 2022 as a contract year in which Jacobs could prove his worthiness as a key part of Las Vegas' offense beyond this season, or compile enough positive film to attract interest elsewhere.
With the Raiders avoiding committing to Jacobs beyond 2022, speculation will continue to exist. It will be up to him to determine his future with the Raiders, who displayed a propensity for running the ball effectively in the Hall of Fame Game, regardless of personnel. He's in a good situation to capitalize, but time will tell.
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