Jon Gruden Calls Marshawn Lynch 'A Beast,' Says Raiders Will Be Counting on RB

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2018

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Marshawn Lynch's future with the Oakland Raiders has been unclear this offseason, but new coach Jon Gruden expects Beast Mode to be a key part of his team's plans in 2018.

"He's still a beast that's hard to bring down," Gruden told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. "And one of the reasons I'm excited to be with the Raiders is to join forces with Lynch. But we'll see what happens. Obviously, we've got to take a look at the entire roster. But I'm counting on him. I'm counting on him being a big part of our football team."

Lynch has a base salary of $4 million in 2018 and carries a cap hit of nearly $6 million.

After sitting out the 2016 season for a brief retirement, Lynch showed he had something left in the tank at 31 years old. He rushed for 891 yards on 4.3 yards per carry and found the end zone seven times, adding 151 receiving yards.

It was a tale of two seasons for Lynch. He averaged just 40.4 yards in his first eight games as he adjusted back to the NFL. On the flip side, he showed glimpses of vintage Beast Mode by running for 81.1 yards per game over the final seven weeks. If not for a one-game suspension, he may have topped the 1,000-yard plateau for the seventh time in his career.

In his first season in the Bay Area, Lynch was Oakland's featured back, but he was not leaned on as heavily after being away from the game for a year. In his 10th season, he carried the ball a modest 207 times, down from his average of 295 carries during a four-year peak in Seattle. While teams are cautious about running backs over the age of 30, Lynch has only 318 carries over the past three years.

There's a lot for Gruden to be excited about with an offense that features Beast Mode, quarterback Derek Carr and receiver Amari Cooper. His most recent comments make it sound like there's a spot for Lynch in Oakland in 2018, but the season is still months away.

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