Darren McFadden still part of Raiders' future 

click to enlarge Darren McFadden will return to the Oakland Raiders next season despite his faults this year. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Darren McFadden will return to the Oakland Raiders next season despite his faults this year.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie remains committed to Darren McFadden despite a disappointing 2012 season and hopes a new offensive system helps the running back get his career back on track.

McKenzie spoke to beat reporters on Thursday for the first time since Nov. 30 and looked back at a disappointing first season in Oakland and ahead to the future. He said McFadden will be part of that future as he enters the final year of his contract.

“I’m confident Darren’s going to play his last season,” McKenzie said. “Regardless of what’s out there, we have no decision to do anything with Darren.”

After struggling early in his career with injuries and a zone blocking scheme used in Oakland, McFadden broke out as a star in two seasons with Hue Jackson running the offense. He averaged more than 5 yards per carry in both those seasons and was one of the league’s top big-play backs.

But he reverted to his early-career form last season under coordinator Greg Knapp, who ran the same zone-blocking system that calls on backs to run laterally before making a cut upfield rather than attack the line of scrimmage from the start.

McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season — the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season.

Knapp was fired by coach Dennis Allen after a 4-12 season, along with special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach Frank Pollack and linebackers coach Johnny Holland. McKenzie said the Raiders are close to filling those openings and he hopes to have everything finalized within the next few days.

NOTES: McKenzie said quarterback Carson Palmer is healing from cracked ribs and a bruised lung that sidelined him for the season finale and should be come May. ... Guard Mike Brisiel had “major surgery” on an ankle injury that hindered him all season.

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