The Raiders' rookie class has received plenty of attention this season for its contributions to the team’s 6-4 record.
Running back Josh Jacobs, defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell, cornerback Trayvon Mullen and wideout Hunter Renfrow are producing regularly for Oakland, which is in the hunt for a playoff spot and sits just a half-game behind Kansas City in the AFC West.
But one key rookie has been flying below the radar. Fullback Alec Ingold, undrafted out of Wisconsin, has been a hard-nosed, devastating run blocker ahead of Jacobs, and a versatile player on both offense and special teams.
When the Raiders play the New York Jets Sunday in New Jersey, Ingold will be a key component of a running game that ranks No. 9 in the NFL, averaging 128.2 yards per game. If Jacobs, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington are to find any holes in the Jets’ rushing defense – ranked No. 1 in the NFL and giving up an average of just 79.1 yards on the ground – Ingold will need to do some blasting up front.
"He means everything," Jacobs told Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, when asked about Ingold's contributions. "He’s just as important as the offensive line. He reminds me on certain plays of exactly what I’m supposed to do. I definitely owe him a lot of the credit."
Running behind Ingold on many plays, Jacobs has picked up 923 yards, No. 4 in the NFL, and averages 4.8 yards per carry.
Ingold rarely gets to touch the football during a game. He has just six carries for 14 yards – although six have resulted in first downs – and has just one catch, a 9-yarder for a touchdown. But the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder is happy to be the almost-anonymous backfield battering ram clearing holes for others, especially his fellow rookie Jacobs.
"If I can inspire him to run hard and he can … inspire me to block hard, that’s how we’re kind of playing off each other right now," Ingold told Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee. "The more Josh can get the ball and carry the ball and the more we can run, the better we’ll be and accolades will come later. We trust each other to do our work."
The Raiders take on the 3-7 Jets Sunday at 10 a.m.