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Jennings Gets Fresh Start as McFadden's Backup

Raiders hoping former Jaguars running back regains the form he showed in 2009 and 2010 before knee injury

By Doug Williams
|  Thursday, Apr 18, 2013  |  Updated 8:49 AM PDT
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Jennings Gets Fresh Start as McFadden's Backup

Getty Images

Rashad Jennings (23), formerly of the Jaguars, is happy to be in Oakland now. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

After missing the 2011 season with a knee injury, Rashad Jennings returned to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season to play 10 games.

His numbers, however, were the worst of his short NFL career.

After averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2010 and 5.2 in his rookie season of 2009, Jennings averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in 2012 on 101 attempts – 17 more carries than he had in 2010.

So what can the Raiders expect from the 6-foot-1, 228-pound running back in 2013, now that he’s signed with Oakland to back up starter Darren McFadden? Is he the 2010 Jennings or the 2012 Jennings?

Jennings believes he’s now back to full strength after the injury and a setback with the knee last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said on a conference call with Bay Area reporters recently after signing a free-agent contract with Oakland.  “I came out of the season completely healthy and I’ve been healthy the whole offseason. All injuries are in the past. That’s a done deal. That’s washed away.”

Jennings, originally a seventh-round pick by the Jaguars in 2009 out of Liberty -- where he rushed for 3,633 yards and 42 touchdowns -- says he’s now “looking forward more than looking what happened, what should have happened, what could have happened.”

Jennings talked to the Packers and Broncos before deciding to sign with Oakland. He’ll replace Mike Goodson, who was McFadden’s primary backup last season but signed with the Jets as a free agent.

Jennings, 28, will be reunited with new offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who was with him in Jacksonville.

The new Raider said his familiarity with Olson played a part in his decision to come to Oakland, but wasn’t the sole reason. He says getting an opportunity to play for the Raiders – an organization he equates with having “eager and hungry teams” through the years -- also played a part. He sees himself as a gritty, hard-working player who can fill a role.

“I’m the type of person that takes this game very serious,” he told reporters. “I stay in shape year round and I’m a blue-collar, hard-nosed, downhill kind of guy.”

Jennings has been versatile in Jacksonville as a ballcarrier, receiver (61 catches in three seasons) and special teams contributor.

In Oakland, that’s what he hopes to do: contribute. He calls himself a “complete back.”

“I’m a back that can protect the quarterback, pick up an offense, a running back that can catch out of the backfield, a running back that can get you first downs, a running back that can get you the long plays, an every-down back.”

The Raiders have seen Jennings at his best. In 2010, Jennings rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in a 38-31 victory over Oakland. The same season, he had a 108-yard rushing game against Houston.

 

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