A hush falls over the crowd. Cheers are silent as the color fades from the faces of Raider Nation. Darren McFadden caught a swing pass to the left side of the field, made a move, and twisted funny as he was tackled. He sits there clasping his left foot, again. We have all bore witness to this before, and we all know what it probably means. McFadden may be out for the season.
This is the horror that Raider Nation has faced every year since 2008. Will we have a running back that can stay healthy all season long? Sure, when Darren McFadden is healthy he is a formidable opponent that teams must spend sleepless nights preparing for. Yet, when he is not on the field, opposing teams feel no threat from our passing game or past back-up running backs.
When Reggie McKenzie brought in Free Agent Rashad Jennings, the reason was apparent. McFadden needs rest to stay healthy. In the 6th Round of the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft, McKenzie reiterated the need to keep McFadden healthy by drafting Latavius Murray, Running Back out of the University of Central Florida (UCF).
Will the Raiders have a “running back by committee” type of backfield, or are these just fillers for McFadden to get his rest during the game? Remember, McFadden is in the last year of his contract, and McKenzie is doing away with the bloated player contracts of the past. What will become of McFadden if he is to go down with yet another injury?
I believe that Latavius Murray is not only a savior for McFadden’s health, but I think he will be the running back of the future. McFadden was easily considered a large running back at 6’01” and 218 pounds, but Murray surpasses that at 6’03” and 223 pounds. With the Raiders in a full on rebuilding process, they are looking to create competition at each position. McFadden may have just found the competition he must defend his position against. Many analysts and sports critics consider Murray nothing more than an inexperienced raw talent, but there are those of us who believe he was a draft steal.
Latavius Murray finished his college career with 2,424 yards rushing, 37 rushing touchdowns, 50 receptions for 524 yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns. Not bad considering he didn’t acquire the lead role until his last two years. He is already turning heads at the Oakland Raiders Organized Team Activities (OTA’s), and if McFadden cannot stay healthy, he may receive much more playing time than any of us could have envisioned.
Make no mistake Raider Nation, I want to see Darren McFadden succeed and display the talent we all have been there to see. It is sheer joy to watch him bust through the line for a 60 yard touchdown run. However, should he fall, it’s the next man up.