A few things are painfully obvious after just two preseason games. At the top of the list you’ll find Carson Palmer and his interception issues. Last season’s excuse of Palmer having to learn a new offense and team is looking just like that – an excuse. He is what he is and a tiger can’t change its stripes.
A very close second to the concerns of Palmer’s performance is the healthy of Darren McFadden. Without Run DMC this season will be lost for Dennis Allen in his first experience as a head coach.
Already McFadden is in midseason form and he’s barely been involved in the offensive attack. Slowly but surely the Raiders are easing McFadden back into his fulltime role. With each preseason game we see more of how McFadden will be utilized by Greg Knapp. However with more McFadden comes more exposure to injury.
That’s why it is in Allen’s best interest to shutdown his most valued asset for the rest of the preseason. By now the coaches have seen all they need of Run DMC. He’s in shape, shows no ill affects of his foot injury and is running with purpose every time he touches the rock.
To be sure McFadden should still participate in all non-contact drills in practice. He should continue whatever strength and conditioning program the team has instituted. He just shouldn’t suit up for the remaining two preseason games.
Nothing of any value can come from running McFadden onto the field for more meaningless preseason action. Already injuries are starting to pile up at key positions. Given the Raiders lack of depth and the highly disappointing debut of Mike Goodson, it only makes sense to protect the man that could very well determine the season for Oakland.
Allen has everything to lose and nothing to gain by playing McFadden again this preseason.
Of course nothing guarantees McFadden will remain healthy for the entire regular season. For my money I’d just prefer risking his health for when the games actually count as opposed to the glorified scrimmages that are preseason contests. But McFadden is a competitor and asking him to dial it down is impossible. Still, this is Allen’s team and if he tells Run DMC to take a seat then that’s what will happen. In fact, it’s exactly what should happen.