It is not an NFL season without Oakland Raiders' running back Darren McFadden missing games due to injury. Last season was no different as McFadden missed six games due to injury and was relegated to back-up work after coming back. He has never made it through a full season healthy and has battled a number of different ailments. That may be most concerning to the Raiders as McFadden has suffered hamstring, ankle and knees problems just in 2013. He has also missed time due to foot, shoulder, and toe injuries.
“For me, the past is behind me, I don’t even care to really talk about it really, so I’m moving forward. The only place I can go is up,” McFadden said after mini-camp.
Putting that injury history behind him will be easier said than done. They have taken a tool of his production. For the previous two seasons, McFadden had a career-low 3.3 yards per carry average. He has not rushed for 1,000 yards in a season since 2010 and that was the only season of his career he surpassed that mark. He has been held to 11 touchdowns in the past three seasons. He only played in four of the Raiders' last nine games in 2013 and did not carry the ball more than seven times in any of those games.
Despite those numbers, the Raiders brought McFadden back for 2014, in part because he came back on a sweetheart deal for the team. McFadden is making very little guaranteed money on a one year "prove it" deal. The Raiders also covered their basis at running back adding Maurice Jones- Drew via free agency and trying to develop 2013 sixth-round pick Latavius Murray. Oakland is not counting on McFadden and his health as heavily as they have previously.
On the positive side, McFadden is still only 26-years-old. In the past, he has shown glimpses of the player the Raiders drafted fourth overall. In a running back-by-committee situation, McFadden has the tools to thrive. His workload should be less demanding which will allow him to use that speed and explosiveness, if injuries have not robbed him of it. The goal is for him to take less punishment and remain fresher through the games and season. His health and production will be one of the most interesting storylines to follow as the Raiders enter the 2014 season.
Tags: Darren McFadden, Football, injuries, Latavius Murray, Maurice Jones-Drew, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders
“The years flew by so fast,” McFadden said. “As far as my body, I still feel like I’m still the same person I was coming in my rookie year, I just have more knowledge of the game.”