Raiders running back Rashad Jennings, who suffered a concussion against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, has been cleared to play this Sunday against the Chiefs.
Though fullback Marcel Reece stepped into the running back role last week vs. the Jets and was again terrific, Jennings’ return should be good news for the Raiders, who will be able to have both in the lineup at the same time.
Jennings, in fact, has been one of the Raiders’ most pleasant surprises this season. Signed to back up McFadden, he’s become the team’s featured back with McFadden once again sidelined by injuries. Jennings leads the team in rushing with 588 yards on 126 carries, and is averaging an excellent 4.7 yards per rush. He’s also caught 28 passes for 245 yards.
Jennings, 28, was signed to a one-year deal, but is eager to stay in Oakland. And, with the team expected to let McFadden go elsewhere after this season, it would seem to be an easy decision for general manager Reggie McKenzie to re-sign Jennings, given his relative affordability, production and attitude. This season, Jennings also has been a terrific contributor on special teams.
“I would love to, if I had it my way,” Jennings told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group this week, when asked if he’d like to stay with the Raiders. “I feel I am a Raider. I feel at home here. I understand the system. I’m going to continue to grow in it, take ownership over it.”
Jennings was one of a group of veteran free agents signed by McKenzie this past offseason to fill holes and play key roles on a roster that’s been cleared of high-priced veterans over the past two seasons. Jennings is among those who has played with a lot of effort, and he told Corkran that same attitude he’s seen from teammates is helping to turn the Raiders around.
“We’ve made a lot of strides,” Jennings said. “You have a lot of hungry guys who want to change this culture and turn this program around. The majority of the guys feel that way.”
Jennings, meanwhile, has done what he can to bolster the offense through a season in which the quarterback situation has been in flux, the line has been a revolving door and the receiving corps has been hurt by injuries and lack of depth.
In four of his past five games – minus the game in Dallas when he was hurt – Jennings has gone over 100 yards in total offense. The 6-foot-1, 231-pounder is a rugged inside runner, and durable.
Against the Texans last month, Jennings had his biggest career day as a running back, rushing for 150 yards.
With him back in the lineup Sunday when the Chiefs (10-3) visit the Raiders (4-9), Oakland will be in much better position to run the ball.
As head coach Dennis Allen said after that game, Jennings has “been a guy we’ve called on to come in and run the ball, and he’s done a great job at it.”
With three games to go, it certainly seems as if he’s earned another season in Oakland.