Raiders’ McFadden returns to practice
NAPA – Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden practiced for the first time in more than two weeks Tuesday and expects to make his preseason debut this weekend against San Francisco.
McFadden ran with the Raiders’ first team offense, breaking off two long runs during a team scrimmage then later hauling in a deep pass from quarterback Jason Campbell in a 7-on-7 drill.
That was encouraging for Oakland, which lost Chaz Schilens indefinitely after the third-year receiver had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. No timetable has been set for his return.
McFadden is projected to be the Raiders’ No. 1 running back this year but had not practiced since Aug. 7 when he pulled up with a sore hamstring during the team’s morning practice. McFadden sat out Oakland’s first two preseason games while Michael Bush, Rock Cartwright and Michael Bennett split the carries in the backfield.
“I felt good, I felt like I was able to do everything that I’m supposed to do,” McFadden said after emerging from the Raiders’ locker room 45 minutes after practice ended. “I haven’t talked about (playing time) with the coaches. But for me I feel like I’m full go so I’ll hit it full go.”
The Raiders are counting on McFadden and Bush to help turn around an offense that was 31st overall in 2009. Oakland was 21st in rushing at 106.3 yards per game and scored only seven touchdowns on the ground.
McFadden, the fourth overall pick in 2008, hasn’t played a full season in two years with the Raiders. He was slowed by a pair of turf toe injuries as a rookie, then was limited to 12 games last season after tearing the meniscus in his right knee.
The former Arkansas star rushed for 357 yards and one touchdown. Bush, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2007, ran for a career-high 589 yards and topped the 100-yard mark twice.
Coach Tom Cable said early in training camp the two would split time in the backfield during the regular season. That remains the plan this week as the Raiders prepare to host San Francisco on Saturday, with no restrictions being placed on McFadden.
“Our plan right now is to go through the week like normal, that he’s back and ready to go,” Cable said. “We’ll be smart in terms of his workload. Once we get there Saturday we go play.”
McFadden ran pain-free Tuesday, showing a good burst on his two big runs against Oakland’s first team defense. It was on the long pass from Campbell during 7-on-7 drills when McFadden was able to really test his hamstring.
“I feel like it was one of the real tests for me because when we’ve been rehabbing, we were doing little short bursts here and there,” McFadden said. “That was the one thing we were trying to work on, just to see what would aggravate it and what wouldn’t. I felt like I needed that extra week just to get my burst.”
The news wasn’t as optimistic for Schilens, Oakland’s oft-injured wide receiver who is likely to miss the rest of the preseason after knee surgery.
“I cannot tell you yet as to a timeline but we’ll know here pretty quick,” Cable said. “That’s what I’m waiting for, for him to get back so we know more. We just don’t have any of those answers.”
Center Samson Satele won’t play against the 49ers this week, either. Satele injured his ankle early during Oakland’s 32-17 win over Chicago last Saturday. The team initially thought Satele might require surgery but Cable said that doesn’t appear to be the case now.
“It does not look to be serious but we will not force the issue there,” Cable said. “I know I’m going to shut him down this week. There’s a chance he could be ready to go but I’m just not going to push that. I’m not going to do that.”
Notes: DE Jay Richardson walked without a limp and said he expects to be ready for the opener in Tennessee after having his left knee scoped. … Alex Daniels is back on the defensive line after a two-week experiment at fullback. … DT Richard Seymour (triceps), RT Langston Walker (back) and CB Chris Johnson (hamstring) were held out of practice.
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