How the Raiders roster puts Marshawn Lynch in a good position to succeed

Training Camp is a welcome time of year for football fans and beat writers alike. Putting an end to the fluff pieces and hypotheticals as the pads come on in hopes of putting together a team worthy of raising the Lombardi. For the Oakland Raiders, training camp is a chance for players to prove themselves, and to answer some serious questions.

One of the biggest questions of the offseason revolves around the signing of hometown hero Marshawn Lynch, and what the Raiders can expect.

You’ve heard the criticisms of Lynch’s return from a hiatus, not taking a snap since 2015. In that 2015 season, Lynch rushed for just 3.8 yards per carry. Not to mention, he played just 7 games, rushing for 417 yards.

What is often not considered was the Seattle Seahawks abysmal offensive line. A line that ranked No.29 according to Pro Football Focus in run-blocking in 2015. In contrast, the Raiders offensive line ranked No.6 in 2016, and allowed a league low 18 sacks. Lynch has never had the luxury of running behind a line of this caliber, and he won’t be forced to shoulder the load alone.

Between 2011-15, Lynch ranked within the Top-5 in carries per year. At 31, expecting Lynch to be the workhorse he was in the past wouldn’t simply be feasible.

Luckily, the Raiders have two young change-of-pace backs in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Both Richard and Washington averaged over 5 yards per carry, and proved to be reliable receiving threats. Fullback Jamize Olawale is a versatile back in and out of the backfield when he’s not clearing the way up front. And rookie Elijah Hood provides a safety net in case of injury and a pupil for Lynch to take under the wing.

With the abundance of talent in the backfield, Lynch likely wouldn’t be looked upon to carry more than 15 times per game for a few reasons. The main reason being that the team would surely look to preserve him for a late run in the playoffs. While he could very well return as the man of old and explode for a 1000-plus yard season, he might be better served as a situational back. It’ll be up to offensive coordinator Todd Downing to utilize Lynch’s diverse skill set.

One thing’s for certain, the addition of Lynch is certainly an upgrade from last year’s primary back. Lynch provides veteran leadership, a champion that will ramp up the energy from teammates and his hometown crowd alike.

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