Raiders great George Atkinson is still active with the organization as a member of the broadcast team, and there’s certainly no place in the team facility he can’t go. That’s especially true of the practice field.
The legendary safety and return man purposefully stayed away from the opening practice of Raiders rookie minicamp, choosing to make Friday all about his son.
George Atkinson III worked out for the first time since signing as an undrafted free agent, hoping to make the 53-man roster as a running back and returner.
It was a proud day for this Raiders legacy, but Papa Atkinson wanted the spotlight focused.
“He told me yesterday, ‘I’m not going to come out. I know you’re expecting me to come, but this is your moment and you need to be a man about it as an individual and I’m not going to be here to pressure you or anything like that.’” Atkinson III said. “He’ll have a chance to come out and see me practice.”
He’ll have plenty of chances throughout the offseason program and training camp, once the dust settles some and Atkinson III gets into a groove.
The Raiders need a return man, giving Atkinson III a legitimate chance to reach the regular season with a strong camp and preseason.
He certainly has the credentials. Atkinson III averaged 24.3 yards per kickoff return and had two return touchdowns in his career at Notre Dame.
He left a year early, but went undrafted after seven rounds. The Raiders were quick to snatch him up, seeing potential in his special teams work. While some sons prefer to take their own path, Atkinson III took no issue with adding a generation to the Atkinson Raiders legacy.
“I’ve looked up to this organization and this club for a long time and there was no part of that going on with me,” Atkinson III said. “I’ve looked up to my dad and wanted to follow in his footsteps but also lead my own trail at the same time. You’ve got to find that balance, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
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Atkinson III is also a running back, but understands he must excel on all aspects to special teams to prove early worth on an increasingly talented roster.
The Raiders didn’t bring Atkinson III in as a favor to his father. They believe he has the skill set to contribute if he continues to improve throughout the offseason program.
“I think he’s a talented athlete and he’s got a lot of speed, and he has the ability to help us on special teams also,” Atkinson III said. “I think any time you have a chance to get a legacy, somebody who has the Raider bloodlines, you (do) it because those guys understand what it means to be a Raider,” head coach Dennis Allen said. “We were pleased we were able to bring him in here.”