Raiders running back Jalen Richard couldn’t believe his buzzard’s luck. The undrafted rookie suffered a minor knee injury midway through training camp, just days before preseason games began.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. Exhibitions are gold to those fighting for a 53-man roster spot, and missing too much time has been a death sentence for some talented players unable to perform.
Richard never got down for two reasons: 1) He would return during the preseason, and 2) The Raiders kept him up.
“I got a lot of encouragement from the staff to handle whatever I had nicked up,” Richard said, “so I could be more efficient on the field and have a better chance to perform at my best.”
That time is coming soon. He returned to practice on Tuesday and participated again the following day.
It seems Richard was missed.
“It’s too bad he had a little knee injury the last couple weeks,” offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said before Wednesday’s practice. “For a while, he was doing something spectacular each and every day in practice. It was good to have him back out there yesterday to remind us of what we had the (first) two weeks.”
Richard showed elusiveness, burst and raw speed during camp practices, and worked behind starter Latavius Murray and fifth-round rookie DeAndre Washington. Washington and Richard have similar skill sets, which may help if one becomes injury protection for the other.
The Southern Mississippi alum has experience returning kicks and punts, areas where the Raiders are looking for a spark. He could help in a few key areas, leading many to consider him in good position to secure a roster spot.
Supporting solid practices with quality game play would obviously help achieve that end.
It remains uncertain whether Richard will suit up Saturday against Tennessee – it could happen if he feels good and practices all three times this week -- but he’s expected back for the exhibition finale versus Seattle at least.
“I’m comfortable being out there (practicing) from an intensity standpoint being able to move around in pads and things like that,” Richard said. “It’s a day-by-day thing.”
Richard hopes to maximize his opportunities in games, and prove himself worthy of a roster spot.
“That was one of the reasons why the staff, the trainers and I decided to sit out those first two games,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that, when I did come back, that I was fine and I was efficient and in the best possible form to take advantage of the opportunities given in games.”