This offseason, running back Isaiah Crowell was cut by the New York Jets after they signed Le’Veon Bell in March, only to sign a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders a couple of weeks later. But his hopes of becoming the lead back in Oakland were short-lived: Last week, the Raiders selected Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with the 24th pick of the NFL draft.
But the final nadir of Crowell’s topsy-turvy offseason came Tuesday, when Crowell tore his Achilles’ tendon during a team workout (per ESPN’s Adam Schefter). He’s expected to miss the entire 2019 season after having surgery next week.
Crowell has started 51 games over his five-year NFL career with the Browns and Jets and was expected to provide veteran leadership at running back in Oakland after Marshawn Lynch’s assumed retirement and the team’s decision not to re-sign 2018 leading rusher Doug Martin, who’s still out there as a free agent. But that almost certainly won’t happen now, even if other players have recovered from similar offseason injuries to play in the season that followed (49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree had Achilles’ surgery in May 2013 but returned in November of that year, for instance).
Crowell’s injury means Oakland likely will go into the season with Jacobs, pass-catching back Jalen Richard (career-high 68 receptions in 2018), DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren at running back.
Jacobs, the first running back taken in this year’s draft, shared the workload with Damien Harris at Alabama last season and rushed for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 20 passes for 247 yards and three scores. He was named MVP of the SEC championship game after averaging 10.4 yards per carry and scoring twice, and scored a memorable touchdown in the Crimson Tide’s win over Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff semifinals.
“If you’re listening Josh, I encourage you to get some rest, because we’re gonna run you a lot,” Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said on draft night. “We’re gonna give you a great opportunity.”
That opportunity just got a whole lot greater.
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