EDITOR'S NOTE:This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Broncos matchups to watch Thursday, 5:20 p.m. (NFL Network), at the O.co Coliseum
Raiders RB Darren McFadden vs. Broncos LB Danny Trevathan
Tale of the tape
McFadden (20): 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, fifth season, Arkansas
Trevathan (59): 6-foot-1, 232 pounds, rookie season, Kentucky
ALAMEDA -- As Darren McFadden is expected to make his first appearance in a game since suffering a high ankle sprain on Nov. 4, you would think this matchup would be about McFadden trying to elude Denver weakside linebacker Wesley Woodyard.
But Woodyard is dealing with an ankle injury of his own, and after not practicing in this short work week, he is listed as doubtful to play. Enter Woodyard's backup, rookie Danny Trevathan.
"Looking at their linebackers, they’re flying around," McFadden said. "You have to be aware of all of them."
Not that it matters much to McFadden, who was averaging a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry before missing four straight games. Because the Raiders run game and zone-blocking scheme has improved in his absence, with the continued improvement of center Stefen Wisniewski and the return of right tackle Khalif Barnes.
"No doubt, we've got to keep doing what we've been doing, being assignment perfect, getting the right calls, getting everybody spotted in the right direction," said Raiders running backs coach Kelly Skipper. "I think that's helped us a lot. We've been getting on blocks, we've been moving people off the ball. I think definitely (McFadden will) reap the benefits of that. Got to keep it going."
Trevathan was drafted by Denver in the sixth round of the NFL draft, No. 188 overall. He has yet to start a game but he has 25 tackles with a sack.
He also may face a sound McFadden.
"You could see (McFadden) cutting, you could see him bursting off the foot," Skipper said. "You wouldn't have noticed today that he had been injured.
"There's a big difference, big difference. Last week we tried to get him going, see where the foot is, get a feel for how much strength he had in it and everything. I think as the week went, the better he got at it, and now you can see the difference. It paid off to get him moving around."
Said McFadden: "Haven’t (done) much running or (taken) a pounding …so I feel pretty fresh. I’m ready to get out there and get to running the ball again."