When the Chiefs visit the Raiders on Sunday, keep an eye on the running backs — one veteran and one rookie. They flashed in their respective teams’ openers.
Players to watch
No, 28, Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
In three years at Alabama, Jacobs never led the team in rushing for a season. Damien Harris was typically the Tide’s first choice. But Jacobs was impressive in his first NFL game on Monday against the Broncos, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He showed both burst and power in a 23-carry debut. His career high in carries for a game at Alabama was 20. He got better as the game progressed Monday, with 47 rushing yards and a 28-yard reception in the second half. He’s the first rookie to amass 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in an NFL debut since LaDanian Tomlinson did it in 2002.
No. 96 Clelin Ferrell, DE, Raiders
The No. 4 overall pick from Clemson, Ferrell turned in a nice opener with three tackles, a tackle for loss and a coverage sack of Joe Flacco along with a pass deflection. “A very good start for Cle,” Raiders head coach Gruden said. Ferrell and Johnathan Hankins led the Raiders’ defensive linemen in snaps with 47 out of 64 against the Broncos. The Raiders’ selection of Ferrell in the draft raised some eyebrows, especially after they passed on Josh Allen, the Kentucky standout who was taken by Jacksonville three picks later. Pro Football Focus downgraded Ferrell’s game against the run.
No. 25 LeSean McCoy, RB, Chiefs
What does the 31-year-old have left in the tank? In the Chiefs’ opener, plenty. McCoy powered up for 81 rushing yards, including 62 in the second half at Jacksonville. And that was on a limited playbook, as McCoy had joined the team only a week earlier. He got 20 snaps compared to starter Damien Williams’ 45, but don’t be surprised if that gap shrinks as the season progresses. McCoy, the NFL’s third-leading active rusher with 10,687 yards, showed plenty of quickness and change-of-direction ability last week.
No. 22 Juan Thornhill, S, Chiefs
The only rookie to start for the Chiefs in their opener, Thornhill had some tough moments, like a lowering-the-helmet penalty. But he also led the Chiefs with eight tackles, played all 58 snaps on defense and prevented some big plays in the run game with his sure tackling. Thornhill’s closing speed will be important against the Raiders. Quarterback Carr likes to get the ball out quickly. KC’s cornerbacks will be tested and so will Thornhill, who was around the ball often in his NFL debut.