DeAndre Washington finds better form, Raiders roster spot after down year


ALAMEDA -- The Raiders took stress away from DeAndre Washington’s final preseason week. The fourth-year running back is going to make the team.

Doug Martin was placed on injured reserve, with a settlement upcoming as team and player eventually will part ways. That made room for Washington, but the spot wasn’t given. It was earned.

Washington was awesome in training camp, showing toughness running inside, speed in space and quality in the passing game.

That’s nothing new. Washington has always been a versatile talent and an NFL-caliber running back.

Even still, gainful employment was uncertain at best to start training camp, improbable at a more realistic level.

The Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs to be the primary back, with Doug Martin as a mentor/reserve and Jalen Richard seemingly locked into a unique role. The Raiders always keep a fullback, leaving little room for Washington on this roster.

He went out and secured his place here, rebounding well from an injury-plagued season.

Washington had arthroscopic knee surgery last year in the preseason and never really got right. The Raiders formed a rushing rotation without him while he was recovering, and he never really got his spot. He played 10 games last year but saw just 30 carries, leaving no chance to build a rhythm or make a legitimate impact on 2018.

Washington isn’t one to look back, or make excuses.

“It was tough,” Washington said. “Not being right can definitely wear on you, but it definitely prepared me to have a much stronger year heading into 2019.”

Martin has plenty of experience as a productive feature back. Richard and Washington haven’t taken control in limited opportunities without a more established feature back, but there’s clearly confident they can handle increased touches should Jacobs be unavailable.

Washington believes he is turning a corner, and that’s because of hard individual work and influences of those who passed through the Raiders running back corps.

“Doug taught me a lot about being a pro,” Washington said. “I’m fortunate to have played with him and Marshawn Lynch and Latavius Murray. Picking up a bit from each guy has been beneficial to my career.”

Jacobs should take most snaps, so Washington must capitalize on opportunities when they come. The three runners expected to stick on this roster should work together well, even if they’re all built the same. They can do at a lot of things well, which is required in Jon Gruden’s offense.

“We compliment each other well,” Washington said. “Our games are a little different, but we can all get after it. We’re all competitive, but we’re looking to help each other out. There’s no hate in our room. We help each other, and are working toward a common goal."

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Washington and Richard have been stable parts of the Raiders rushing group while others have come in and out, and Washington’s set on making the most of this opportunity he has earned.

“This is my fourth year. Man, I’m a seasoned vet now,” Washington said. “Time definitely flies.”

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