The Oakland Raiders will try to use Darren McFadden more at the receiver position this year.
As a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist at Arkansas, Darren McFadden helped popularize the "wildcat" offense. The Raiders haven't been very wild in their use of the multi-talented back, but Tom Cable is busting out some schemes in training camp to change all that.
The Raiders plan on running more and more plays this season with McFadden lined up as a wide receiver. We saw a little of McFadden at receiver last season after Tom Cable was named interim head coach. Now that Cable has secured the gig permanently, he may be even more apt to employ gadgets and trickery on offense.
The tendency in these new plays is not necessarily for McFadden to line up in a traditional receiver formation. Rather, he lines up at running back, then switches to the slot position when the quarterback audibles. The transition happens only seconds before the ball is snapped, making it that much tougher for the defense to adjust.
And it should make it that much more difficult to contain Justin Fargas and Michael Bush. Defensive adjustments to McFadden going in motion should create mismatches for Bush and Fargas, or so Cable's thinking goes. "You have to find a way to get those people involved", Cable told David White of the Chronicle, "Because really they're all three play makers in their own way."
Darren McFadden is certainly on board with the expanded role. "I'm looking forward to seeing how much more they want to put me out there," he told the San Jose Mercury News. "But you're going to see a lot more this year."
It sure makes sense -- McFadden was actually the Raiders' third-leading receiver last season, with 285 yards through the air. That's more production than they got from actual receivers Ashley Lelie and Javon Walker. To be fair, Javon Walker appeared in only 8 games. But if McFadden is more durable than some of your receivers, why not use him that way?
At Arkansas, McFadden scored as a running back, receiver, and even at quarterback. The kid has more positions in him than the Kama Sutra. The Raiders should squeeze all the all-purpose yards they can out of him, and Coach Cable has a plan to get that mojo back for Darren McFadden.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who sometimes wonders what ever happened to Ashley Lelie. Turns out Lelie was on a 1-year contract, wasn't offered an extension, and is currently not in the league.