Three and Out: Branch returns, Raiders' last straw with McFadden?
Darren McFadden has 365 yards and four touchdowns over eight games this season, averaging 3.5 yards per carry. (USATSI)
ALAMEDA -- Darren McFadden missed four games and most of two others with a hamstring strain.
Just five carries into McFadden’s latest return to action, he got injured again. This time it’s his ankle, which kept him out of practice Wednesday -- six days after suffering the injury -- and could sideline him on Sunday against the New York Jets.
“He injured the ankle in (Thursday’s) game,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “It’s more than what we initially had thought, so he wasn’t able to go today. Hopefully we’ll be able to get him out there soon, but I don’t know.”
Uncertain playing status has become the norm for McFadden yet again during what is likely his final season as a Raider. Allen wouldn’t provide a formal diagnosis, nor a timetable for his return.
That injury, plus Jeremy Stewart’s knee and ankle troubles, forced defensive back Taiwan Jones to return to a position he hasn’t played since 2012. He took the majority of Wednesday’s practice reps -- Rashad Jennings remains limited with a concussion -- because the Raiders can’t count on those players to return by Sunday.
“Nobody has a crystal ball,” Allen said. “You can’t tell when a guy’s going to be well. We’ll take them through the rehab process and get them back out as quickly as we can.”
McFadden’s setback is the latest in a series of lower body injuries that have sapped his effectiveness throughout an uneven NFL career. Recent bouts of injury have been ill timed, as he plays out the final weeks of an expiring contract.
McFadden’s downfall has been quick and cruel. He has 365 yards and four touchdowns on 103 carries this season, and has lost a starting spot to Rashad Jennings. While he hasn’t been terribly effective when healthy, injury is to blame for another stolen season.
“It’s been very hard,” McFadden said last week, prior to the Cowboys game. “There’s always something. To me it’s just like maybe something small, like an ankle or hamstring, turf toe or just something. But you just try to stay positive and just keep working hard and keep moving forward.”
Jennings cleared for practice: Running back Rashad Jennings passed several portions of the NFL’s protocol on concussions and was cleared to practice and participate in meetings. He has not been cleared to play.
Moore still out: Even after a two-week break, receiver Denarius Moore isn’t ready to return to practice. His shoulder injury is significant, and could steal at least one more game from a once-promising season.
“He’s better, but he’s still not ready yet,” Allen said. "Hopefully it’ll heal up quicker and we’ll get him back out there.”
Nix getting ready: Lucas Nix took the majority of Wednesday’s practice reps with Mike Brisiel sidelined with a knee injury. Allen said he would start if Brisiel can’t go. Nix lost his spot in the starting lineup last week after Khalif Barnes moved from left tackle to left guard.
Raiders participation report
Did not practice: WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Darren McFadden (hamstring), RG Mike Brisiel (ankle, knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs, calf), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle, knee), S Usama Young (neck).
Limited participation: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), DE Jason Hunter (foot), OT Menelik Watson (illness)
Injured reserve: CB D.J. Hayden (groin), WR Juron Criner (shoulder), TE David Ausberry (shoulder), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), K Eddie Carmona (leg), G Tony Bergstrom (foot)