Richard, Washington Could Spark Raiders With Lynch Suspended

ALAMEDA – Raiders running back DeAndre Washington's number was called on second-and-goal from the Kansas City 4-yard line. That's typically a spot where Marshawn Lynch works his magic.

Lynch was in the Oakland Coliseum stands at the time. He got ejected from Thursday night's game for making contact with an official after joining an on-field scuffle from the sideline.

The situation demanded a power run, even without the Raiders' power runner. Washington gave them one. The second-year pro channeled his inner Marshawn running to his left. He slammed a shoulder into one defender at the line of scrimmage, kept his balance, bowled through another to reach the end zone.

"When you're that close to the line, you know you're going to have to go through some bodies," Washington said. "After I got through the first guy, I had to find a way to reach the end zone. At that point, it's about refusing to be denied."

That was an important showing for a Raiders offense playing Sunday in Buffalo without their main power source. The NFL suspended Lynch one game for the unsportsmanlike conduct that got him ejected.

That leaves Washington and Richard to pick up the slack. There's confidence that duo can get the job done. Operating without Lynch will be different considering his bruising mentality contrasts Washington and Richard's slash and dash.

"They don't have the size and the power but they have a little more quickness, they catch the ball a little easier, better route-runners, things like so," Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. "So, if you're playing a little more wide open, in some respects they give you a little more juice."

Lynch ranks among the best tackle busters in NFL history. Richard and Washington won't offer that ground and pound. They offer more physicality that you might think. Washington proved that with Thursday's run, and Richard averaged 3.3 yards after contact per touch last season.

Elusiveness is key. Richard and Washington have that in spades.

"They call me the little guy and stuff, but I weigh a good amount," Richard said. "I'm strong in my weight. I believe that I can break tackles and make people miss. Yards after contract are big, and it's somewhat overlooked in my game. It doesn't mean you have run somebody straight over. You can give them half of your body and slip right off. I have that in my game."

Richard and Washington have split the workload before. Latavius Murray missed two games with turf toe last season, and the Raiders ran decently well. Jamize Olawale helped out once, and that trio averaged 3.56 yards per carry in a win. Richard and Washington ran another show last year, but didn't get many opportunities playing catch-up against the 2016 Chiefs.

They churned out 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries last week after Marshawn went down.

While they bring a dynamic quality to spread formations, the running backs insist they can operate any page in the playbook. That might make add unpredictability to the Raiders run game.

"We don't have too many tendencies when we're out there," Richard said. "We do a lot when DeAndre and I are in the game. We'll be able to spread the offense out and it might be tough to figure out what's going on. We want to use that to our advantage."

Left tackle Donald Penn knows the Raiders will run well with a simple plan. The front will create space. Backs just have to run through it.

"If they follow us," Penn said, ‘they'll be fine."

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