McFadden missed nine games last season after suffering a Lisfranc injury against the Kansas City Chiefs on October 23rd. The injury was one of many unexpected turns that derailed the Raiders' playoff hopes.
Oakland knows what a playmaker McFadden has been for them. He led the league with 610 rushing yards through six games last year before being sidelined. He's a big-play back who knows how to get into the end zone, and the Raiders will look to lean on his battle-tested body again this year.
"He's fast, he's explosive, but he's also a phenomenal teammate. Guys love him. He's a leader. When you have your best player on your team be one of your hardest workers, it's great for young guys, vets, even guys like [Richard] Seymour who have Super Bowl rings." - Carson Palmer to the LA Times.
With Michael Bush off to Chicago and backups Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones light in the game-day experience department, McFadden is going to need some help anchoring Oakland's backfield. Rumors abound about the possibility of bringing in veteran Cedric Benson or current free agent Ryan Grant. One Raiders blog even suggested trading for Dallas RB Felix Jones.
“Mike Goodson’s been a guy that — a couple of years ago in Carolina — did a nice job as a replacement there. Obviously, Taiwan’s an explosive back. So, the key is hopefully that we’re able to keep Darren healthy and then if we’re able to do that we’re going to be just fine.” - Dennis Allen to the Washington Post.
As excitement also builds around how new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will opens things up for Palmer and the passing game, the Silver and Black Attack will still require a dominant ground game to be successful over time and contend for the AFC title.
McFadden is a crucial piece of Oakland's playoff puzzle. Let's hope he's a piece that does not go missing again.