Raiders hold Bush out of practice
OAKLAND – Despite missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury, Oakland running back Darren McFadden is likely to get the majority of work this week when the Raiders play at Tennessee.
Some might say it’s long overdue.
With Michael Bush questionable due to a broken left thumb that required surgery, McFadden is expected to take the majority of reps in Oakland’s backfield for the season opener in Nashville.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to and I think I’m ready for it,” McFadden said Thursday. “I didn’t get much preseason play but I don’t think that’s going to bother me much.”
McFadden hurt himself early in training camp and had only seven carries in the preseason, all of them against San Francisco on Aug. 28. He did not play in the preseason finale when Oakland rested most of its projected starters.
The injury and down time are nothing new to McFadden. Since entering the league as the fourth-overall pick in 2008, he has been beset by a variety of lingering injuries that have shelved him for long stretches. McFadden averaged 108.5 carries in his first two NFL seasons and has just one 100-yard game on his resume.
The plan entering 2010 was to have McFadden and Bush split the duties in Oakland’s backfield. That changed slightly when Bush’s left thumb got smashed between two helmets in the game against San Francisco.
Bush underwent surgery and had two screws inserted in his thumb, but coach Tom Cable remained optimistic the former fourth-round pick wouldn’t be out long. Bush joined his teammates in practice Wednesday and Cable said he was “shocked” at a report saying Bush would not play against the Titans.
The outlook was a bit more pessimistic Thursday.
Bush, who wasn’t available during media access, did not practice and strolled out to the field well after the rest of the players, wearing sweats and a white Raiders cap. He briefly served as an opposing player during an offensive line drill – standing still and doing nothing more – before watching the rest of practice.
“That will be a game-time decision,” Cable said of Bush. “Everything looks like he’ll (practice) tomorrow.”
In the meantime, McFadden is prepping to be the Raiders’ workhorse until Bush returns. Oakland will also lean more on backups Michael Bennett and Rock Cartwright.
“That’s one of the things the coaches talk about, that there’s not a big drop-off from the first guy to the last guy,” McFadden said. “We’re looking to go out and prove we are a contender, we’re not just a pushover.”
That includes McFadden himself. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the first-overall pick in 2007, was given his walking papers after three disappointing seasons. Now the critics are already lining up to take their shots at McFadden.
“I know what I’m capable of doing so I just want to go out there and put it out there on the field,” he said. “For me you try not to think about it, you just do it.”
Yet there are those who wonder if he can. Cable, in his second full season as the Raiders coach, is among those with questions about the third-year running back.
“I think everybody is waiting to see Darren stay healthy,” Cable said. “If you look at his production it’s been pretty good when he has played. That’s what we want to see, just that consistent ability for him to go out there and stay on the field. When he does that, then all those questions or issues or whatever they are will be handled by him.”
Notes: WR Chaz Schilens (knee), DE Desmond Bryant (elbow), CB Walter McFadden (hamstring) and LB Travis Goethel (back) were also held out of practice. … Cable acknowledged the Raiders brought in free agent DE Bobby McCray for a workout on Wednesday. McCray was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 3.