McFadden healthy and ready to silence doubters 

click to enlarge Darren McFadden has put up big numbers when healthy, but he’s missed time every year of his career. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Darren McFadden has put up big numbers when healthy, but he’s missed time every year of his career.

So far, so good.

Which is really no different than any other training camp with the Raiders where running back Darren McFadden is concerned.

McFadden has been the most impressive and explosive player in Napa four years running. With limited contact, he’s managed to remain healthy in July, August and into September other than a freak injury.

But even with a broken eye socket sustained a year ago during a blocking drill when McFadden’s helmet was driven into the top of his nose, it didn’t prevent him from getting off to a huge start.

The problem with McFadden has been it never lasts as long as he or the Raiders would like.

Through six games, McFadden appeared on his way to a 1,500-yard-plus season or better last year. He was a nearly impossible matchup as a receiver. He had 614 yards rushing when he took a short pass from Kyle Boller, twisted his foot awkwardly, and it was over.

The Raiders didn’t know it at the time, but it was a Lisfranc sprain from which he would not recover.
It added to McFadden’s considerable injury history.

Turf toe on both feet as a rookie.

Arthroscopic knee surgery and postseason shoulder surgery in year 2.

Hamstring and knee issues in year 3, where he broke out with 1,157 yards rushing in 13 games and proved conclusively he was worth the No. 4 overall pick if only he remained healthy.

So after the season-ending injury last season, McFadden knows what people are thinking.

“You hear it all the time, but that’s something I can’t do anything about,” McFadden said. “I’m out there playing and playing hard. I can live with that if I get hurt that way.”

Raiders coach Dennis Allen understands that his team’s hopes to earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2002 have a lot to do with keeping McFadden healthy.

The problem is, McFadden has not played more than 13 games in a season in his career, although most of his issues appear unrelated.

Allen said he hopes to get McFadden there, but plans to use him in preseason games, rather than shut him down.
“We’ll look at that on a game-by-game basis,” Allen said.

The Raiders are employing an exclusively zone-blocking scheme this season under offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, just as they did in McFadden’s first two seasons with the Raiders. It so happened that McFadden wasn’t particularly effective in those years.

Allen, Knapp and McFadden believe health had more to do with  that than scheme, and believe zone-blocking will suit McFadden fine.

McFadden is looking forward to putting last season’s abrupt end in the rear-view mirror.

“A lot of people may think it’s hard to bounce back and get back in the flow of things, but for me, once I’m out there on the field, I feel like I’m at home, so I just get out there and try to pick up where I left off,” McFadden said.

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