Raiders running back Josh Jacobs had fantasy football owners counting their points after his three-touchdown performance in Sunday’s opener at Carolina.
The reality of what he’s doing on the field is even more impressive.
Jacobs ran for 81 yards after contact on running plays, a full 87 percent of his 93 rushing yards against the Panthers, according to Pro Football Focus.
The second-year star out of Alabama was second to Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who had 106 yards after contact.
It’s nothing new for Jacobs, who led the NFL in broken tackles last season in numbers calculated by the site.
Jacobs shed a league-high 69 tackles last season despite missing three games. The Browns’ Nick Chubb (66) and the Seahawks’ Chris Carson (62) missed one game combined but still finished behind him.
The Raiders’ feature back picked up right where he left off, breaking a league-high 10 tackles as a rusher. He added two broken tackles as a receiver to finish with 12 and easily outpace the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey’s eight.
“He has great contact balance,” Panthers cornerback Troy Pride said. “We could hit him in the back sometimes and he could still get his 2 or 3 yards and send their offense in motion. He is just a good player. He is tough. Downhill runner. Can wiggle in space and take first contact and continue going.”
Jacobs also emerged as a threat in the passing game, a development that was foreshadowed all offseason.
He caught four of his six targets for 46 yards. That workload put him at 48 percent of the team’s touches, the highest in the NFL ahead of Derrick Henry at 44 percent and McCaffrey at 40 percent.
It’s all part of why coach Jon Gruden compared Jacobs to Walter Payton after Sunday’s game and why his health is such a constant concern despite Jacobs doing much of his damage with an injured shoulder last season.
Thomas likely out
The Raiders’ young secondary isn’t likely to get the chance to test its mettle against one of the league’s best wide receivers Monday night.
According to reports, the ankle injury suffered by Saints star Michael Thomas is worse than originally feared and he is likely to miss several weeks.
Thomas is a major loss for the Saints as they prepare for the first game at Allegiant Stadium. He led the league with a record 149 receptions last season.
On the Raiders’ side, there is optimism that right tackle Trent Brown (calf) won’t miss substantial time. He has not been ruled out for Monday’s game.
Veteran cornerback Nevin Lawson was added to the active roster Tuesday after serving a one-game suspension. Safety Dallin Leavitt was released.
Lawson played in 11 games for the Raiders last season, making five starts. He had 23 tackles, 19 solo, and defended five passes.
Ferrell off to good start
Second-year defensive lineman Clelin Ferrell was in on the biggest defensive play of Sunday’s game, penetrating the line and helping tackle fullback Alex Armah for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play late to seal the victory.
It was the culmination of a strong game for Ferrell, the Raiders’ highest-graded defensive player by Pro Football Focus.
Ferrell continued to show versatility, playing 38 snaps at end and 14 at tackle.