Darren McFadden, RB #20
Hometown: Little Rock, Arkansas
Experience: 5 years
The Raiders are emphasizing defense this season, but you can’t win games unless you score more points than the other team, and you can’t score points unless you move the ball. Positive yardage is the name of the game.
Entering his fifth season with the Silver and Black, Darren McFadden, or DMac as he is nicknamed, is the Raiders best offensive weapon. The two-time winner of the Doak Walker award for the top college running back, the former Arkansas Razorback is the only two-time runner up for the Heisman Trophy.
This is a pivotal year for the fifth year veteran who has not quite lived up to his potential in the NFL.
McFadden has incredible speed, a benchmark that late owner Al Davis stressed as the most important ingredient in building the Raiders offense. His breakthrough season came in 2010, when he became the first Raiders running back since 2007 to rush for 1,000 yards (1,157) even though he played in only 13 of 16 games that season. He averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per carry and scored seven rushing touchdowns. He also caught 47 passes for 507 yards and three receiving touchdowns
He has played in 45 out of a possible 64 games with 32 starts in four seasons in his NFL career. Individually, McFadden’s single-game best came in 2011 against the New York Jets, when he rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns including a 70-yard TD run. In 2010 against the Denver Broncos, McFadden scored a career-high four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving.
Last year while on his way to duplicating and possibly surpassing his 2010 totals, he suffered a foot injury in the Raiders debut of Carson Palmer in Week Seven. At the time, McFadden was averaging 5.4 yards per carry and had already accumulated 614 rushing yards. While it was speculated McFadden would miss about a month, he never suited up again in 2011, missing the remaining nine games. His absence was largely the reason the Raiders lost four of their final five games and failed to make the playoffs for a ninth straight year.
Just like an engine, if the Raiders aren’t running on all cylinders — McFadden, receivers Darius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford, and quarterback Palmer — it could be a challenge for the team to end a playoff drought that has now lasted nine seasons. DMac certainly has all the tools, but like the name suggests, he’ll need to be a playmaker for the team to compete for the coveted Vince Lombardi trophy.
This summer in June, McFadden held his own Youth Football Camp in Maumelle, Arkansas. It was a two-day event open to boys and girls ages 7-14. He also is part of the NFL Play 60 campaign which encourages children to participate in an hour of physical fitness every day.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.