Raiders Backfield: What Is the Latest Darren McFadden Backup Plan?
What if Run DMC goes down this season?
This is not meant to be alarmist. Rather, this is a serious question that the Oakland Raiders front office and coaching staff need to be asking themselves every morning when they wake up and every night before bed.
McFadden led the league in rushing through the first six games last season, amassing over 600 yards on the ground and four touchdowns before missing the rest of the year with a serious foot injury.
What's more: McFadden has missed 19 games in four seasons with Oakland.
So, what exactly is the Raiders contingency plan?
Option A: Mike Goodson
Michael Bush is off to play his second fiddle in Chicago, leaving a big hole in the Raiders backfield blueprint.
One RB making an early impression at training camp is Mike Goodson, a fourth-year player out of Texas A&M. Goodson currently sits second on the depth chart behind McFadden. It must be a familiar feeling for the former Carolina Panther, who spent a few seasons supplementing the likes of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie traded offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to the Panthers for Goodson, so someone somewhere must see his potential.
Goodson had some success back in 2010, averaging 4.4 yards a carry on 103 attempts before spending last season on IR with a hamstring injury. Prior to his injury, Goodson had been replaced as Carolina's primary kick returner due to fumbling issues.
Reports from training camp suggest that Goodson is a good fit for Oakland's "one cut and go" running style and that he seems comfortable working behind the offensive line's zone blocking.
Goodson did not finish Tuesday's training session due to a hamstring strain, though the team insists that he is at full strength.
Upside: experienced, solid running style
Downside: injury and fumble prone
Option B: Taiwan Jones
Second year back Taiwan Jones is in a tricky spot as training camp continues and the Raiders march toward the preseason.
Jones averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season on 16 touches, which goes to show more of his potential than his inherent value to the team. There is no denying how quick and elusive Jones can be, but outside of college, the stats are just not there yet to back him up.
Bringing in Mike Goodson does not bode all that well for the former Eastern Washington standout. There is a chance that hamstring issues plague Goodson (as they have already in training camp), opening things up for the younger, healthier Jones to make a good impression.
Another troubling sign for Jones: Rumors continue to build around Oakland's desire to bring in another seasoned running back, a move that could push the budding back even further down the depth chart.
Upside: agility, health
Option C: Cedric Benson
Raider Nation is torn concerning the proposition of signing Cedric Benson this season.
On the one hand, Benson gained 1,067 yards on the ground last year, finishing 17th on the regular season rushing list. On the other hand, the Raiders do not need to involve themselves with more players who make headlines for being arrested again rather than having a great game.
There is a reason that Benson is a free agent with only modest offers on the table, if any at all.
Yes, he's averaged 1,143 rushing yards per season over the last three years, but Benson's off-field drama can not be understated as the Raiders look to redefine their values under new head coach Dennis Allen.
Benson suiting up in silver and black this season is not out of the question, but with Goodson, Jones, as well as fullbacks Marcel Reese and the newly signed Owen Schmitt already on the roster and putting in reps at training camp, it seems more of a distraction than anything else to bring the ex-Bengal on board.
Downside: everything else
Time spent around the blogs and in comment sections paint contrasting pictures as to just how important all the speculation around Oakland's backfield is this summer. In a perfect world, Run DMC bulldozes the AFC over on his way to the rushing title and the playoffs. No injuries, no nonsense, no more stories about lingering questions in the backfield.
In the real world, it pays to have a backup plan or three and to go over them again and again.