McFadden key cog in Allen's plans for Raiders

McFadden key cog in Allen's plans for Raiders
February 24, 2012, 9:31 pm
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Finally, thankfully, cooler heads appeared to have prevailed.Granted, the drum to trade Darren McFadden for draft picks was being beaten by fans and media types. Not purportedly by anyone who actually works inside the walls of Silver and Blackdom.Still, it was a relief, or at least, it should be a relief to hear new Raiders coach Dennis Allen say today at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that the artist known as Run DMC is in his plans for next season, even if he's been a more injury-plagued Limp DMC of late. Especially after being was lost for the season after spraining his right foot on a tackle by Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson after picking up three yards on a pass play from Kyle Boller with 12 minutes to go in the first quarter on Oct. 23.RELATED: Q&A with Raiders HC Dennis Allen
In fact, Allen said McFadden was actually in the Raiders' Alameda facility working out last week."Yes, his foot is better," Allen said. "And we got a good evaluation on him. Darren will be ready to go whenever we get ready to kick off the season, that's for sure."I think he's an extremely dynamic player. Again, from playing the Oakland Raiders twice last year, they were much more challenging to defend when Darren McFadden was in the backfield, and having that kind of two-headed monster between him and (Michael) Bush, that was a real challenge. Darren is a vital part of what we're going to try and get done next year."So there you have it. And really, trading away so much potential -- yes, I realize McFadden has missed 19 of 64 games due to injury since being the No. 4 overall pick of the 2008 draft -- for draft picks made little sense, what with the Raiders' salary cap issues.But retaining McFadden might spell the end of Bush, who is an unrestricted free agent.Consider: McFadden is due 5.65 million this season and if the Raiders use the franchise tag to retain Bush, they'd owe two running backs a combined 13 million. And why would they want to pay a back-up in Bush more than a starter in McFadden.Granted, Bush excelled immediately after McFadden went down, but seemed to wear down at the end of the season. If he gets offered starter's money elsewhere -- Cincinnati? -- Bush is gone. Which leaves Taiwan Jones as the primary back-up tailback, and he does not seem to be ready physically.Meaning the Raiders are scanning all possible reasons for McFadden's health issues in the NFL."We're looking at everything within the organization, how we can improve in every aspect of the organization, and obviously practice fields is one of the things that were looking at," Allen said. "Is there something we can do to improve that, and is their a correlation between the foot injuries and the practice fields? If we can deduce there is a correlation between the two, well do everything we can to get them right."A healthy McFadden is one of the more electric backs in the NFL, and a hybrid player coming out of the backfield.But how will he fit in new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's West Coast system, which uses zone-blocking schemes not seen in these parts in a few years?"We're going to give him the opportunity to be successful," Allen said. "Whatever gives him that opportunity, that's what we're going to do. I will say this, when you look at the running games that Greg has been a part of, they've all been very successful with a lot of different of styles of runners. And even look at what Darren was able to do a couple years ago, really running the same scheme with Tom Cable."I think Darren McFadden will be successful in any type of running game that you put him in because he's that explosive."And still a member of the Raiders, which is the most important aspect. Now if they can just keep him healthy...