Three and Out: How much should McFadden play in preseason?
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NAPA – Darren McFadden is ready for the regular season.
The Raiders running back is fully healthy and rushing well. The Raiders would like him to stay that way, forcing coach Dennis Allen to weigh the risk and reward of playing his oft-injured superstar in the preseason.
Allen believes McFadden needs some work in each exhibition, including Friday’s opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’ve seen it where guys like Darren don’t play in the preseason and I’ve seen it where those guys do,” Allen said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s my feeling that guys need to play. The anticipation is we’ll play him (each game). In terms of how much we’ll play him, we’ll evaluate that on a week-to-week basis.”
McFadden is fine with that. He wants to get in sync with his lineman this year more than ever after installing a new offense this offseason.
“I want to be out there with my guys,” McFadden said. “We have a new offense this year, and you want to get some live reps in so we can get comfortable with what we’re doing. In order to do that, I have to be on the field too.”
Coordinator Greg Olson’s offense was designed with McFadden in mind. A new blocking scheme based on gap creation and gap control fits McFadden’s downhill rushing style, and it will be the primary method of moving the ball.
“I feel like it’s coming together,” McFadden said. “They’ve done a great job of driving off the line and creating space for me to run. I’m looking forward to a game situation with those guys and being able to run this offense at full speed.”
The offense will run best with McFadden in the lineup, something he's struggled with in each of his five professional seasons. McFadden has been hurt each year, and renewed health problems will put a major crimp in the Raiders plans.
Playing in the preseason is a risky proposition. The Raiders will put him in a position to get hurt with little to gain and nothing at stake.
McFadden isn't worried about that, and insists on being treated like everyone else.
“You want to grind every day, just like the other guys are doing,” he said. “I try and lead by example. I’m going 100 miles per hour all the time, showing the guys how you’re supposed to play and how you’re supposed to practice.
“(In terms of the regular season), I’m ready to go right now. But I’ll play however long the coaches want me to play.”