Darren McFadden, when healthy, is one of the most electric running backs in the NFL.
McFadden, who entered the league in 2008, has never played more than 13 games in a season. He does, however, have career averages of 4.2 yards per carry and 8.9 yards per catch.
So, Run-DMC, are you healthy?
“I’m healthy. I’m 100 percent healthy,” the Raiders running back said on The Doug Gottlieb Show, slightly amused. “I always get that question. I tell people I don’t go into the season hurt. It’s when you’re getting out here and going hard and getting into tackles and getting rolled up in a pile – that’s when a lot of my injuries occur. For me, that’s something I just try to put behind me and I keep moving forward. I just want to go out there and help my team do the best that I can this year and get back into the playoffs.”
That could be a tall task, mainly because the Raiders haven’t finished with a winning record since 2002. But Oakland did sign a new quarterback, Matt Schaub, and another tailback, Maurice Jones-Drew to help carry the load.
“I’m sure there’s going to be enough balls to go around for the both of us,” McFadden said, referring to MJD. “We’re both guys that’s played in this league for a few years now. It’s one of those things (where) sharing carries with somebody is going to help take the load off of each other. It’s not going to be a drop-off from No. 1 to No. 2 at all.”
Jones-Drew is currently listed as the feature back, with McFadden slated as the backup.
“It’s something I can’t control,” McFadden said. “I have to just go out there and let the coaches make those decisions and I just roll with it.”
McFadden rushed for just 379 yards last season – the second-fewest of his career – on a career-low 3.3 yards per carry, but most of those issues stemmed from poor offensive line play. McFadden, 27, has a lot of faith in that unit entering this season.
“We had a little trouble last year with our offensive line, but those guys are always working hard,” McFadden said. “This year, I feel like it’s one of the best offensive lines I’ve been around since I’ve been in the league. I’m just looking forward to getting out there with those guys on Sundays and just getting everybody together and getting a well-oiled machine going on.”
McFadden, one of just five Raiders still on the roster since 2008, will also try to make life easier for Schaub, who had several productive seasons in Houston but fell off the map last year, throwing too many pick-sixes to count.
“I feel like confidence has a great deal to do with how you play out there on the field,” McFadden said. “We know what kind of quarterback he is. I feel like he’s been doing a great job all through OTAs and even during the preseason. I feel like he’s going to be a great quarterback for us.”
Oakland opens the season on the road against the Jets on Sept. 7. McFadden’s most important job that day might not be running, but rather, picking up blitzes.
“It’s going to be a lot of blitz packages,” McFadden said, “so we’ll have to be ready for that and just be on our toes.”