Power and will are what separate Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch from other NFL players, teammates say.
Teammates laud RB’s power, will
CARSON, Calif. — His team was winless after three games.
And the fourth was off to a slow start.
The Raiders trailed the Cleveland Browns 9-7 last Sunday in the second quarter. Early whistles eradicated what likely would have been a 75-yard touchdown from Marshawn Lynch, who was breaking tackles when forward progress was ruled. Soon, the defense would allow a long touchdown run and 2-point conversion, widening the margin to 17-7.
Lynch approached his offensive line on the sideline.
“He was like, ‘It’s up to us,’ ” guard-center Jon Feliciano said. “Follow him. He’s going to bring it. He did. He was running over (guys).”
Since the 45-42 overtime win, Raiders coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr have raised to reporters Lynch’s candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The topic reflects the respect the running back has garnered within the organization. Lynch willed the Raiders past the Browns and looks to do so again Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Power and will.
These traits, above all, are what separate Lynch from other NFL players, teammates say.
“One thing I’ve always said is you can’t make a lion a cheetah, and you can’t make a cheetah a lion,” tight end Lee Smith said. “You’re built the way you’re built. No. 1, he’s freakishly strong. If you just look at the way he’s built, I tell him all the time he looks like a tree stump. It doesn’t matter how hard you hit a tree stump. It’s not going anywhere. It’s there. It’s small. It’s short. It just wins. It wins the leverage battle, every time.
“The way his body is built, No. 1, and No. 2: He’s a lion. He just refuses to ever die. He refuses to ever let anything else beat him. He is the apex predator. Period. He’s a freak show. It’s that simple. He has the body. He has that tree stump that is impossible to take down. … In his mind, if someone tackles him, that was an accident. That wasn’t supposed to happen.”
Lynch forced 10 missed tackles last Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus, when totaling 157 yards on 23 touches.
His 20 missed tackles forced leads the NFL.
Whatever step he might have lost at age 32 is largely indiscernible because of the swagger he retained. He still possesses the same aggression he harvested early in his career.
Last Sunday, he caught a short pass on the first play from scrimmage in overtime. He ran toward the Raiders’ sideline after having secured the reception. Once a couple of feet from the sideline, he turned inside, dipped his helmet and barrelled through an incoming
His body inflicts and absorbs its share of damage from that running style.
Since the Raiders first began releasing injury reports in Week 1, he is their only player to be listed with multiple ailments. Lynch has dealt with groin, shoulder and — after last Sunday’s game — an abdomen injury. And yet, there he is, inviting contact like a third-grader does classmates before a birthday party.
“Why does he run the way he runs?” tight end Jared Cook said. “Because he doesn’t give a (care). He don’t care at all. That boy a machine. You can’t hurt a machine. You can’t take down a machine. … Dudes coming to try to tackle him, it’s like they’re irrelevant. They don’t matter. He don’t care about them. He’s trying to get into that end zone. He’s trying to get where he needs to get.” Adversity reveals character. That is when Lynch rises to the occasion.
“I’ve known about Marshawn,” Gruden said. “I’ve covered Marshawn. I’ve seen Marshawn play and practice live. You watched an 0-3 football team the other day, how much it meant to him. He’s just a great competitor. I think he’s a Hall of Fame back without a doubt. He can catch it. He can run it. He plays with passion. Practices with passion. He’s a great player. I’m happy to be here with him.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch forced 10 missed tackles in totaling 157 yards in the Raiders’ first win, 45-42 against Cleveland on Sept. 30.