ALAMEDA -- What had been a cause for concern all summer when it came to Darren McFadden has come to fruition.And it has nothing to do with injuries.But while McFadden has more than struggled behind the Raiders' new zone-blocking scheme this season, rookie coach Dennis Allen insists he looks on tape like the same player he was last year."Yeah, he does," Allen said. "He's still an explosive player. We've got to do a better job of creating some room for him to run. We've incorporated a few more of those gap scheme-type plays and again, you can say this on every play, but we're one block here or one block there away from a big run."In six games, McFadden has rushed for 324 yards, on 103 carries. Take away his 64-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh and his average of 3.1-yards per carry falls to a paltry 2.6 yards-per-carry average.Through six games a year ago, and behind Oakland's power-blocking scheme, McFadden was leading the NFL in rushing with 610 yards on 111 carries, a 5.5 yards-per-carry average.It was the seventh game last year in which McFadden suffered his season-ending Lis Franc injury, against Kansas City.He insists he is not frustrated, despite the noticeable downtick in production running the ball. McFadden finished with 53 yards on 19 carries against the Jaguars, after having just 10 yards on eight carries in the first half."Just have to stay focused at the task at hand," he said Monday. "Keep pushing. It's one of those things you can't get down on yourself, can't get down on the offense. Just keep playing ball and eventually it's going to happen."Allen concurred."Go back and look at the Pittsburgh game and that was his best rushing output of the (season) and he had an explosive run," Allen said, referring to the 64-yarder. "That's how you get those big games. You have one or two explosive runs in a game and all of a sudden you look up and here's a guy with a hundred-and-something yards rushing."So that's what we've got to continue to do. We've got to continue to work in the running game and I feel that if we continue to hand the ball off to him, those big runs are going to come."Many fans held their breath and wondered why, just after McFadden landed on his already-sore shoulder against Jacksonville, McFadden retreated to the tunnel area leading to the locker rooms."I just went behind the bleachers real quick to use the bathroom," McFadden said with a laugh.Just as many, though, would just as soon flush the Raiders' current offensive scheme down the toilet with, they say, McFadden not being utilized to his talents.Allen admitted the Raiders' run game still has a ways to go when asked if he was "surprised" it has not gotten going yet."Well, I dont know if 'surprised' is the word," Allen said. "Im disappointed that its not doing better. Again, were going to continue to work, continue to see what we can do better, both as a coaching staff and how can we execute better to give our guys a chance to be successful."I dont think theres any doubt that we want, and need, to run the ball better than we have."
Raiders rookies have reported to Napa for some pre-training camp instruction. Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu are not among them.
This year’s top draft picks remain unsigned as activity ramps up toward the first full-squad practice on Saturday. Every practice, meeting or moment of instruction is important for young defensive backs expected to make an immediate impact.
It is, however, still early in the season preparation process. Head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t concerned about his first-round cornerback Conley or his second-round safety Melifonwu being away long term.
“These are issues that should get resolved shortly and they’ll join the team,” Del Rio said Tuesday in an interview with 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco. “It’s one of those situations where, years ago, ...those were issues. Holdouts could last the whole camp and into the season. The structure is in place now (with the NFL’s rookie wage scale), and we expect these things to get resolved shortly and they’ll be getting their work in.”
There isn’t much wiggle room in rookie contract negotiations these days, which is why just four NFL draft picks remain unsigned at this stage.
Conley’s legal issues, however, could be considered complicating. The No. 24 overall pick was accused of sexual assault stemming from an April 9 incident in Cleveland.
The Cuyahoga County District Attorney’s office has said the investigation is ongoing. Conley’s lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
There is no timetable to complete the process. Conley has maintained his innocence, and passed a lie detector test just before the draft. The Raiders have stood by their selection from the start, confident in their pre-draft research that Conley will be cleared of wrongdoing and be a productive member of the squad.
Del Rio said that’s still the case several months later.
Marshawn Lynch is getting to live out the dream of most pro athletes.
He's getting to finish his career by playing for his hometown team.
One fellow Oakland-native and AFC West rival can appreciate the opportunity in front of Lynch, but also had some fighting words for the Raiders running back.
“For Shawn to finish off this last little stretch of his career here at home, that’s dope,” Chiefs CB Marcus Peters told the Bay Area News Group on July 8.
“It’s going to feel good for him. It’s going to be a good feeling. It’s going to be a good feeling for Oakland. But when [the Chiefs] come here, we’re going to beat the dog s--- out of him,” Peters said.
So you can circle Thursday, Oct. 19 on your calendars. The Raiders host the Chiefs in Week 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:25pm PT.