McFadden strictly a singles hitter


News, notes and quotes Thursday from the Raiders open locker room, practice and post-practice press briefing from coach Tom Cable:

— The word on Darren McFadden coming out of the draft is that he had touchdown-on-any-play capability. He was the kind of home run threat Al Davis loves, hence McFadden’s status as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 draft.

So how come there have been 277 touchdown runs in the NFL this season and none of them are from McFadden?

Correction: There have been 277 runs of 20 yards or more in the NFL this year, and none of them are from McFadden.

Tennessee’s Chris Johnson, pursuing a 2,000-yard season and taken 20 selections after McFadden, has 20 all by himself.

Johnson and McFadden were the two fastest backs at the NFL scouting combine, with Johnson timing 4.24 in the 40-yard dash and McFadden 4.33.

Yet McFadden has only four runs of 20 or more yards in 22 NFL games and they all came in the same game _ a 21-carry, 164-yard effort in Week 2 against Kansas City that included his longest run, a 50-yarder. McFadden’s longest run from scrimmage this season is 15 yards against Denver in Week 3.

“This is the NFL. I think your ability to have people miss at that level is much different than this level,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said. “People are surer tacklers and it’s just a matter of getting into space and creating it.”

Cable thinks McFadden’s big runs from scrimmage have been held back in part because of his troubles with injuries, turf toe last season and arthroscopic knee surgery for a torn meniscus this year.

“He’s been in for three, maybe four games at most and then back out for a month,” Cable said. “I think just the consistency of being healthy and being able to feel it and stay in there.”

— Tight end Zach Miller will undergo testing Friday to determine whether he is fit to play against Denver after having two concussions since Oct. 4.

Miller is the Raiders’ leading receiver over the last three seasons with 150 receptions for 1,879 yards and six touchdowns in 42 starts. He’s never missed a game due to injury. Cable wouldn’t say whether Tony Stewart or rookie Brandon Myers would start if Miller can’t play.

— Those who sat out practice along with Miller were wide receiver/returns specialist Nick Miller (tibia), quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (knees) and defensive end Greg Ellis (knee). Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy was limited with a groin injury which shouldn’t keep him out of the Denver game. Center Samson Satele (calf) and safety Michael Huff (stinger) made it all the way through practice.

— Denver cornerback Champ Bailey has been shadowing the team’s best receiver this season in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s system, a welcome challenge for the 11-year veteran. He’s got a lot of respect for younger corners considered the NFL’s new elite, Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha and the Jets’ Darrelle Revis, in particular, but isn’t about to say they’ve passed him by.

“These guys, they deserve the credit they’re getting,” Baileysaid. “They’re great players. They’re young, and they’re looking for the next great one. I had that title for a while. It’s only a matter of time before somebody younger comes up, and that’s what makes this league great.

“I’m at least equal. At least. I don’t look at them enough. I watch them but I don’t look at them enough to compare ourselves. But I know I’m matching up on the best guy every week and not a lot of guys do that. There’s a few that can do it and be successful at it.

“I’ve seen guys try and falter. I’ve got to give those two guys credit. They’re pretty damn good corners. They have a lot of work to do. They have to do it for a number of years, and I think they can do it.”

The Raiders have been utlizing three wide receivers of late _ flankers Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy and split end Johnnie Lee Higgins. Bailey doesn’t have a great deal of information on any of them, given their inexperience.

“They’re young so I know they’re hungry. That’s one thing I notice about them on film is they play hard,” Bailey said. “When you’ve got guys out there playing hard, regardless of how much experience they have, it’s going to be a tough task for you.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer