The Raiders won’t have their most familiar face on special teams as a returner in 2014 as Jacoby Ford’s career in Oakland came to end this offseason when the team decided to part ways with a former highly touted draft pick who never materialized into the speed weapon that Al Davis envisioned and Raiders fans hoped he would become.
With no real standout in the return game from 2013 head coach Dennis Allen has been experimenting with the special teams unit throughout the Raiders OTA sessions, already opting to use Maurice Jones-Drew in punt return sessions and leaving the door open for the veteran to potential fill the role Allen has his other veteran running back in the special teams mix this Monday.
Allen reportedly gave Darren McFadden some additional reps on special teams as a kick returner, getting “a lot of work” during the teams kick return drills according to Vic Tafur.
#Raiders RB Darren McFadden got a lot of work returning kicks today. “Anything is an option,” Dennis Allen said.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) June 9, 2014
McFadden returned kicks in his college days at Arkansas when the former first round pick was the best rusher in college football and had speed that was simply too much of a weapon to pass up having the chance of letting DMC run downfield on kick returns. In the pros his salary and durability issues naturally kept him off the special teams depth chart, but as Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune notes McFadden’s new contract is no longer a worry to risk an experiment at kick returner for the team’s longest serving runner.
Interesting to see Darren McFadden returning kickoffs today. Did it at Arkansas, but also fumbling issues cropped up on returns. — Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) June 9, 2014
McFadden’s salary made returning kicks prohibitive in the past. That’s no longer the case.
— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) June 9, 2014
As with all OTA reports nothing is even close to being set in stone during these workouts when it comes to Week One plans, but McFadden at kick returner is an interesting proposition for a team that has had horrendous results in the returning game as of late. The Raiders have had just three 40+ yard returns in the past two seasons, something that head coach Dennis Allen is open to fix by using any means needed to revitalize an area of the Raiders team that is in need of serious new life. Whether that be using the veteran running back in a return role or by another option it is clear that Allen might be willing to get creative to ensure that the Raiders boring return game is a thing of the past.