Despite new ownership and a new coaching staff, Raiders camp up in Napa is looking like business as usual.
Another preseason, another August of training camp, and another scenario where injury-prone Darren McFadden is one of the most dominant players on the field.
Yes, Darren McFadden. That running back who led the league in rushing yards after the first six games of season and then went dramatically MIA with a foot injury.
With most other players, the injury wouldn’t have garnered so much scrutiny. I mean, this is football that we’re talking about.
The problem with this injury is that McFadden has missed at least three games in each of his four seasons with the Raiders. And while it exciting to hear — or see, if you were one of those lucky Raider fans that scored a ticket to watch camp over this weekend — McFadden is looking better and working harder than just about any other player, it’s hard to ignore he has yet to play a full season.
McFadden told SFGate’s resident Raider expert Vic Tafur:
“If anyone has any answers as to how I can avoid getting hurt, with these fluke-type injuries, I would love to hear them. …. I can’t worry about last year … Or that people say I always get hurt. I am always in shape and I work hard.”
Which is true. McFadden is a hard-worker and a team leader. And it’s great to hear that the Lisfranc sprain he endured last year is fading into his rear-view mirror.
Until you remember that he has been sidelined for knee and hamstring injuries as well.
It has to be frustrating for a running back to rack up 600 rushing yards and five touchdowns to get sidelined for the rest of the season with an injury. And former head coach Hue Jackson’s constant veil of mystery behind McFadden’s foot sprain and how serious it was didn’t help matters.
McFadden’s teammates seem to be trying to look past his history of aches and pains as well. In fact, quarterback Carson Palmer had nothing but good things to say when talking to the press this weekend:
“He’s fast, he’s explosive, but he’s also a phenomenal teammate. . . When your superstars are your hardest workers, that’s when you have something and can build something special.”
The two have yet to play a regular season game together, as McFadden sprained his foot just a week after Oakland brought Palmer out of “semi-retirement.”
The Raiders’ pre-season kicks off August 17 against the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals, not the 49ers, thanks to all those involved in turning last year’s Battle Of The Bay into a violent episode.)