Will McFadden play Sunday against the Browns?

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Will McFadden play Sunday against the Browns?

ALAMEDA -- Darren McFadden was not having the best of seasons when he went down on Nov. 4 with a right high ankle sprain, averaging a career-low 3.3 yards per carry.And while he just started practicing again Wednesday for the first time since going down, McFadden was noncommittal about playing this weekend against Cleveland."I'm just working hard," McFadden said. "Whatever happens when Sunday gets here, I'm going to roll with it."The only thing I can do is go out there and play football. I don't know how it's going to be. I'm just going to go out there and do what I do every down and play ball."A year ago, when the Raiders ran a power-blocking scheme, McFadden looked like a league MVP candidate and he was leading the NFL in rushing when he was lost for the season in game seven with a Lisfranc injury to the right foot.He did not require surgery, though, and rehabbed accordingly coming into this season. But behind the returning zone-blocking scheme, McFadden struggled. Mightily.Then came the sprained ankle against Tampa Bay. Then practice this week.RELATED: McFadden returns to practice
"First of all, his energy on the field has been a positive," Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said of McFadden's return. "Sometimes if a guy comes off an injury and is still struggling a little bit, he's quiet and doesn't show much. But his energy has been great on the field and his attitude."He's been into the meetings. I do little pop-quizzes quite often in the meetings, and he's done a great job with that this week. He's shown us that he's, mentally, getting his mind to the spot of playing."But is his acclaimed burst up to snuff?"It's good, but not 100 percent yet," Knapp said. "He's definitely shown improvement from what was being displayed in front of the trainers for the past couple of weeks, which I didn't see as much. I did see improvement in Day One to Day Two, as far as progress for him."McFadden said he's just been "easing" back into the routine."I think there's still a little work I have to do," he said. "But for the most part, I'm getting back to being me."The "me" from last year, or the "me" of this season's first seven games?

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”