Power and will are what sep­a­rate Raiders run­ning back Mar­shawn Lynch from other NFL play­ers, team­mates say.

Team­mates laud RB’s power, will

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Gehlken

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

de­fen­sive back.

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.”

Heidi Fang Las Ve­gas Re­view-Jour­nal @Hei­diFang

Run­ning back Mar­shawn Lynch forced 10 missed tack­les in to­tal­ing 157 yards in the Raiders’ first win, 45-42 against Cleve­land on Sept. 30.

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