On his first (and only) carry in Friday night’s exhibition game vs. the Vikings, running back Darren McFadden took a handoff from Matt Schaub and sprinted off left tackle for 23 yards.
Along the way he flashed his speed and a nice stiff arm.
After that, however, the Raiders put the Ferrari back in the garage. They’d seen enough. With one strong carry, McFadden showed what he’s demonstrated in practice this summer: he’s fit and ready to go after a disappointing and injury-marred 2013.
McFadden, too, was pleased.
“Feels so good bein back on tha field,” he tweeted after the game. “Gotta keep grindin clean some stuff up n build from this.”
The game didn’t turn out well for the Raiders, a 10-6 loss. But head coach Dennis Allen liked what he saw of McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Latavius Murray, a threesome of talented backs he intends to use often in what he hopes can be a run-oriented offense.
McFadden had the one carry for 23 yards, Jones-Drew carried twice for 10 yards (and had two catches for 14) and Murray carried seven times for 28. Former Canadian Football League standout Kory Sheets also had five rushes for 18 yards.
Allen alluded to the running game as one area in which the Raiders “can build on” through the rest of training camp and the preseason. Game No. 2 is this Friday night vs. the Lions.
“I think we’re going to be able to have an effective run game,” Allen told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. “You saw some good things up front with the offensive line being able to move people off the ball.”
And, if McFadden is again fit, the Raiders should have a quartet of backs to throw at defenses with a variety of talents: McFadden’s breakaway speed, Jones-Drew’s ability to run inside and also catch passes, Murray’s physicality and Sheets’ change-of-pace shiftiness.
McFadden – who’s listed as No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jones-Drew – says he’s eager to make plays in any capacity as part of a versatile corps of backs.
“I feel like I have great hands, whether it’s out of the backfield or split wide,” McFadden recently told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I think the coaches are going to exploit that this year, put us in position to make plays. Put me in space with the ball in my hands and the sky’s the limit.”