Atkinson brings a solid return game to the Raiders, appearing in 37 games at Notre Dame as both a running back and kick returner. As a returner, he returned 88 kickoffs for 2,136 yards and two touchdowns, setting a school record for kickoff return yards.
While it is likely that the son of the Raiders legend will get some action in the return game, it is unknown how (and if) the Raiders will use him in the offense.
The first-year back has little experience in the NFL, but really, what do the Raiders have to lose by giving the young back some touches?
Granted Atkinson wasn’t even the featured back at Notre Dame before he declared for the draft, but he did post 943 rushing yards on 153 attempts (6.3 avg.) and 10 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound running back possesses great speed and could be a home run waiting to happen if he breaks free in the secondary. While he has great speed, he is sometimes considered to not have the best moves to make people miss.
He carried the ball just 10 times in preseason, but did have 65 yards on the ground. That includes his breakout game in the final preseason game, where he amassed 63 yards on eight carries to lead the game. he also had one reception for two yards.
Bringing in a fresh set of legs can also ignite an offense, should they get the running game going - just look at what the presence of Latavius Murray did in the second half of the game against San Diego, and last week against the Chiefs.
While it is doubtful that he will get a start, or even a bulk of the carries, it would be wise for McKenzie to give his young running back some carries to try and see what the Raiders have in him. And at 1-10, the Raiders really don’t have anything to lose except the development of young players.