NAPA – The University of Alabama did Josh Jacobs right. The Crimson Tide gave him the platform and opportunity to earn lofty draft status, secured when the Raiders took him No. 24 overall in this year's NFL draft.
They also prepared him to be a professional, something clear to Jacobs through two weeks of his first Raiders training camp.
After experiencing the grind of a Nick Saban training camp, this Raiders experience is easy by comparison.
"It's definitely a lot different than college," Jacobs said Saturday. "They look out for you more from a physically and, from a mental standpoint, it has been easier than I thought. I prepared hard during the off-time we had, meeting with coaches twice a week and going over plays has really helped me."
Extensive preparation and the Raiders' desire to have him fresh for a full-time regular-season workload has eased Jacobs' burden thus far.
The team's focus is to prepare Jacobs for his greatest carry count since high school, a role he's willing to earn. He has performed well as a runner between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. He has shown great hands and slashing ability, traits the Raiders identified in the pre-draft process as signs he would be a standout pro.
"He has all the things you're looking for," head coach Jon Gruden said. "He's talented and tough and has breakaway speed. He just has to put it all together. When he does, I think he has a chance to be a feature back in this league. He's on the right track."
Jacobs believes he has the most to prove as a pass protector, a duty he's taking as seriously as when his No. 28 is called. Gruden calls him a willing pass protector who is working hard to improve in that area. After all, proficiency in protection is required to be a three-down back.
"My pass protection has grown a lot from a technique standpoint," Jacobs said. "I have always known what to do, but I'm focused on going about it the right way. I consider myself well rounded, and I'm trying to make my game well rounded.
"Pass protection is part of the game, and I don't want to come out on any plays on third down or not. That's why I come in with that mindset and try to pick up everything."
Jacobs is feeling good after having nine full-squad practices under his belt at his first pro training camp, with important joint practices against the Rams coming up next week. There have been tough moments, but it's going better than expected for this well-prepared rookie.
"I guess how smooth it has gone," Jacobs said. "I thought it was going to be way rougher than what it is. I guess it's because I mentally knew a lot coming in. Physically, it has been smoother on my body."
Raiders' Josh Jacobs on first NFL training camp: 'Easier than I thought' originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area