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Character has Become the Talk of the Raiders

Character has Become the Talk of the Raiders

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The Extra Point: Raiders Looking to Players Like Josh Jacobs to Help Turn Things Around

The issue of character is front and center in Las Vegas, which has turned to some former Alabama players and an improved running game to help lead a playoff run.

It's been a brutal couple of months for Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. 

When the use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms in emails reportedly dating back to 2010 came to light, head coach Jon Gruden resigned as head coach.

Former Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was involved in a horrific car accident that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old woman. 

This week's setback was releasing the other first-round selection from the 2020 NFL Draft, cornerback Damon Arnette.

"We spent significant time and resources to help him," Mayock said. "We can't stand the video of Damon with a gun threatening to take a life."

Of the seven picks in the 2020 draft, Ruggs being the first at No. 12 overall, only three remain. Mayock said that was "100 percent on me," although things have dramatically changed since the team selected Arnette out of Ohio State. 

"There was significant concern," Mayock said about the character issue. "It's just as important to me that these guys are good in the community as well as good football players."

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One of the players who can especially help the Raiders in that respect is running back Josh Jacobs, who is one of the best stories in the NFL. He's gone from being homeless in middle school, to a standout at Alabama, and was No. 68 in this year's Top 100 list by NFL players. 

However, his production was down. As a rookie, Jacobs averaged 4.8 yards per carry. In 2020, that dropped to 3.9. Earlier this season it dropped to 3.2, in part due to injuries, but he's averaging 4.1 over the last five games, including 5.8 in November. 

With a retooled offensive line that included moving first-round pick Alex Leatherwood from tackle to guard (where he said he felt “a thousand percent” more comfortable for now), the running game is starting to click. Jacobs and former Alabama running back Kenyan Drake combined for 195 rushing and receiving yards agains the Giants last week. 

Turnovers did the Raiders, especially those involving former Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. He had two interceptions, including a 41-yard interception-return for a touchdown in the Giants’ 23-16 win. Combined with his seven tackles, McKinney was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday morning. 

The Raiders also signed free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia made it clear that the running attack and the play-action game is where they hope to turn the page on the field and remain in the playoff hunt. At 5-3, Las Vegas is tied for first in the AFC West. 

"I think Coach [Tom] Cable again has done a really good job with those guys,” Biaccia said via Raiders SI. “They are a young unit ..

“It's still a work in progress. We're still working on our identity, and I think we're certainly looking for better things to come."

It's been a brutal couple of months for Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock. 

When the use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms in emails reportedly dating back to 2010 came to light, head coach Jon Gruden resigned as head coach.

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