Josh Jacobs will not play Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, meaning the Las Vegas Raiders will have to beat one of the league’s scariest defenses without their RB1. That’s according to Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who announced the team’s decision Friday afternoon.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Jacobs sat out all three days of practice this week with two and ankle injuries.
Josh Jacobs ruled out vs. Steelers due to ankle injury
The toe injury predates this week. It kept him limited in practice in the days leading up to the Raiders’ season opener. But it seems as though the ankle is a new development.
Jacobs also got sick last week, putting his availability for Week 1 in question. Still, he was well enough to play against the Ravens. Jacobs was on the field for 45 of the Raiders’ 86 offensive plays. He carried the ball 10 times for 34 yards and 2 touchdowns, splitting work with Kenyan Drake (the only other RB who saw carries).
While those numbers weren’t exactly overwhelming, his 3.4 yards per carry average might have been more of a function of the blocking than Jacobs’ performance. He averaged just 1.4 yards before contact against the Ravens — a full half-yard below his career mark. He did break 2 tackles in just 10 attempts against a talented Baltimore front.
Jacobs, the 24th pick in the 2019 draft, topped 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons. He’s generated 21 career touchdowns and has averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Additionally, 118 of his 525 career carries have gone for first downs.
Kenyan Drake is in line to take over for Jacobs in Week 2
With Jacobs unavailable, Drake is in line for an increased role. He signed a two-year, $14.5 million contract with Las Vegas during free agency and had 70 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches in the opener.
Gruden used Drake predominantly as LV’s pass-catching back and Jacobs as the ball carrier. The only other back on Vegas’ active roster Friday morning was veteran Peyton Barber, who did not play in the opener. The Raiders also have two running backs on their practice squad: Trey Ragas and B.J. Emmons.
“It’s an opportunity for Peyton Barber,” Gruden said. “We really like Barber. We think he’s a heck of a back coming from Tampa. I’ve had a chance to really get behind the scenes on him. I like the way he runs and catches and picks up blitzes. Kenyan will continue to play a role in our system no matter who the other back is. We’re excited about this opportunity to see what we have.”
Whoever lines up in the backfield Sunday can expect tough sledding against a talented Pittsburgh defense determined to tighten up after allowing 117 rushing yards at 4.7 yards per carry in a Week 1 win over the Buffalo Bills.