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Oakland Raiders

Marshawn Lynch showed glimpse of impact he can have

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs the ball against the Tennessee Titans in the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

Marshawn Lynch is not going to be with the Oakland Raiders for long.

He signed a two-year contract when the Raiders acquired him from the Seattle Seahawks in April, ending his one-year retirement. Lynch came back to the NFL to be with the Raiders for a short time. He is 31 and he is a running back. He is not going to play forever. And the proud Oakland native has no interest in being a member of the Las Vegas Raiders when the franchise moves to Nevada, likely in 2020.

Lynch is with the Raiders for the immediate future, though. Sunday, in Oakland’s 26-16 opening-season victory over the host Tennessee Titans, it was apparent what the Raiders’ plan is for Lynch.

Ultimately, it is to close out games. What he did Sunday in the fourth quarter against the Titans.

The Raiders sealed the game with a field goal with less than two minutes to go in the game to take the 10-point lead. The drive was sponsored by Lynch. He ran the ball on six of the eight plays on the drive.

Expect to see more of that as the season continues. Lynch is one of the best grinders in the NFL. BeastMode is famous for wearing down defenses, especially late in the games. He is a perfect fit for Oakland’s mauling offensive line. It is perhaps the most physical offensive line in the NFL. Lynch and his new offensive line seemed to enjoy working together Sunday.

Prior to this season, a tough running back was missing from Oakland’s impressive offensive arsenal. Former starter Latavius Murray, now in Minnesota, is just not the physical presence as Lynch.

Now, the Raiders have their clock eater. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio loves it.

“Yes. It was great to see and I think even there, there are things we have to do better. It was good, not great. … Again, there are things to correct and do better as we go forward. There were definitely some bright spots,” Del Rio told reporters Monday about the impact Lynch made and and how the offense can get better. “Having him in there with his physicality behind our offensive line, that’s a good way to get after people to close it.”

Even with the year off, Lynch did not look rusty. He had 76 yards on 18 carries. He looked like Lynch. Of course, Lynch is famous for running through faces. He did just that when he pancaked 305-pound Tennessee defensive lineman Jurrell Casey in an image that became an Internet favorite Monday.

Del Rio was asked about that BeastMode display. Del Rio gave a coach-speak answer. But, of course, the former NFL linebacker must dig having such a physical running back on his side.

“It probably gets the offensive linemen excited more than anything. For me, I’d like to see that guy be blocked in the first place,” Del Rio said with a laugh. “I’m glad Marshawn was able to lower his pads and make it a positive run for us. He brings a certain mentality. He brings a certain toughness. We saw glimpses of that. We’re not looking for Marshawn to carry us or carry our team. We’re looking for us to be a team, and he’s a piece of it, he’s a part of it. That’s really the way we operate. But certainly, it’s nice to see that he brings that hammer at the end of a ballgame, the ability to close out.”

Indeed, Lynch will be a part of a rotation with scatbacks DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. But when Oakland needs tough yards needs to suffocate the clock, Week 1 showed the Raiders know they have their answer. It’s Marshawn Lynch.

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