Should RaiderNation temper the expectations for Chris Warren III? Yes. After all, it is only preseason and the undrafted free agent from Texas is excelling against the non-regulars.Should the Oakland Raiders keep Warren on the roster by any means? Hell. Yes. Even if that means moving him to fullback (more on that below).
The powerful former Texas Longhorn galloped for 110 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in L.A., this after racking up 86 yards on 13 carries the week before against the Detroit Lions. He runs with conviction and purpose and it has not gone unnoticed.
“He’s a good back, isn’t he?” Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden remarked after this past Saturday’s tilt against the Los Angeles Rams.
Warren has taken advantage of snaps he earned through two preseason games, proving he’s heeding the words of veterans, namely starting running back Marshawn Lynch.
“He told me, ‘This is a huge opportunity for you. Do your best to take advantage of it,’” Warren said. “It was cool to hear that, because Marshawn doesn’t talk a lot of football. Usually, it’s just personal stuff.”
It may be only preseason and against reserve units, but here’s the most intriguing aspect of the 6-foot-2, 246-pounder: What can he accomplish playing with the first-team unit?
The Week 3 preseason tilt against the Green Bay Packers this Friday might be the opportune time to find out. Gruden insinuated Lynch and Doug Martin would not see much playing time. Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Warren will get the bulk of the work.
Lynch, the undisputed starter, is slated to be backed up by Martin. That leaves presumably one spot for a No. 3 tailback. Richard and Washington provide the scatback capabilities neither Lynch, Martin nor Warren can provide, so there is a good chance one of the pocket rockets stick. Moreover, I do not foresee Gruden carrying four running backs on his 53-man roster. However, I can envision the Raiders carrying two fullbacks, something Gruden has done historically in his coaching career.
Fullback! You ask.
Take it more as a by-name-only trait. Gruden is all too familiar with this in Zack Crockett and Mike Alstott. Both were bigger power backs who carried the distinction of fullback but were truly ball carriers.
In addition, Warren’s rollercoaster tenure at Texas lends itself to a position switch.
Longhorn coaches were not sure what to do with him. At first, they made him a fullback, and even dabbled at tight end after he arrived to campus as a running back.
Thus, the Raiders can play coy too, but know full-well Warren is a young sledgehammer that can beat the opposition into submission early and late in games