HENDERSON, Nev. — Josh Jacobs, the NFL’s reigning first-team All-Pro running back, said Wednesday he isn’t carrying any grudges after sitting out all of the Las Vegas Raiders’ offseason program and training camp in a contract dispute.
“I mean, s—, we here,” he said after practice on a conference call with reporters on site at the team facility. “We made it happen, so it ain’t no hard feelings now. It’s a clean slate with me. It was never … no hate on each side. I understood it, but at the same time I understood my value, too. So it was just about meeting in the middle.”
Jacobs, who led the NFL in rushing yards (1,653), yards from scrimmage (2,053) and touches (393) last season, did not sign his $10.091 million franchise tag by the July 17 deadline.
He agreed to an adjusted one-year deal worth up to $12 million with per-game bonuses on Saturday and reported to the team for the first time since locker clean-out day on Jan. 8. He is currently on the roster exemption/commissioner permission list, as the Raiders have 54 players on the roster with Jacobs.
Jacobs would not say Wednesday how large a load he might be able to carry going into the season opener at the Denver Broncos on Sept. 10, but he did say, “Physically, I ain’t missed a step. I didn’t have no errors [in practice]. I came in and it didn’t feel like I missed a step.”
Fellow running back Brandon Bolden concurred.
“Same old Josh,” Bolden said. “He was away from football, he missed it, we missed him. Back to work, and having him out there today was big for everybody, including him.
“When you get that whole [running back] room to come back, it’s just that much more energy in the room. It’s great to have everybody back. Really great to have everybody back.”
Jacobs said he stayed in shape working out at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“With the high school guys back at my old high school,” he said, “and, you know, just being able to mentor them and be around them and show them how, what it takes to get to the next level. I think that was just, it was just a fun experience, honestly.”
Still, he missed being around his Raiders teammates, he said.
“You want to grind with your guys, especially knowing there’s a lot of new guys coming in,” he said. “You want the guys to know who you are and respect what you do, respect your work. That was just the biggest thing, not being able to have that camaraderie.
“But I wouldn’t say they was just all negative, you know? Being at home allowed me to spend a lot more time with my kids and help my dad do his diet plans and get in shape and things like that. So, I mean, it was pros and cons on both sides, but at the end of the day, I wanted to play football. I wanted to be here with the guys. So, I’m just glad it worked out.”
Jacobs also was wearing a new number, having traded in No. 28 for the No. 8 he wore at McLain High School and in college at Alabama. He said he wanted to switch digits last year.
“But they wanted to charge me $3.5 [million] for it, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to do that,'” he said, with a laugh, of having to reimburse the NFL for the inventory. “But, man, I mean, just all my life, that’s the number I’ve always worn.
“That 8 just makes me feel like, you know, a superhero.”