Skeptics, pundits, or just plain Raider-Haters out there want to talk about how the Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden won’t last a full season. Who could blame them, because he hasn’t had the best track record. As a matter of fact, he has only played 13 games at the most in a single season. Still, McFadden has had to fight through several toe, foot, and ankle injuries that have sidelined him many times. Yet, he keeps coming back. He’s played with sore knees, strained hamstrings, twisted ankles, and he still runs hard.
Now, we enter McFadden’s final year of his contract. Some would say that he won’t be wearing silver and black next season. Others would speculate that he will run harder this year to secure a contract in 2014. The funny thing is, Darren McFadden runs hard every time he gets the rock in his hands. He is a dynamic down-hill runner who likes to pound it up the middle. He’d rather run through you than go around, but he can differentiate between the two and speed around you when necessary.
Hey, I’ve had McFadden as a Fantasy Football running back for a couple of years now, and I have been frustrated a time or two. However, I don’t question his toughness or resolve. Great players become great by overcoming obstacles to get better and smarter. I believe that McFadden is learning how to better manage his body to avoid these types of injuries without sacrificing aggressiveness. It shows too. Look at him in training camp. He looks like he has been building his foundation to better withstand the hits and twists. He is finishing runs in camp, and he has said that he is more healthy now than he can remember being before.
Behind the Shield’s Jeanette Thompson interviewed McFadden on Sunday, July 28, and asked him how he feels about being called injury prone. McFadden stated, “I’m not going out there trying to get hurt on purpose. I’m going out there, letting loose, trying to play football.” Isn’t that all we ask of our players? We want them to play football as hard as they can. Sometimes that means that they could get hurt. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles about wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, or the Baltimore Ravens about tight end Dennis Pitta, or the Denver Broncos about center Dan Koppen, they lost them all before the first pre-season game. Injuries happen and are a part of football, but none of us ever want them to happen to our teams. Especially not to the star players like McFadden.
Darren McFadden has a lot to prove to the football world, Raider Nation, his teammates, and to himself this year. The best part is, he has a cast of running backs who can step in and let him get rested. He won’t have to be an every down back. With Rashad Jennings and Latavius Murray, this could become the chemistry that McFadden needs to stay healthy all season. Moreover, if the Raiders can somehow find a cohesive passing game, it’ll give him the chance to flourish and be a 1000 yard rusher again.