Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden Will Get Real Test Against Detroit Lions

Steven SlivkaCorrespondent IIIAugust 24, 2012

Darren McFadden has missed 19 games in four seasons with the Raiders.
Darren McFadden has missed 19 games in four seasons with the Raiders.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As the Oakland Raiders prepare for their preseason tilt with the Detroit Lions, running back Darren McFadden will be the most talked-about player on the field for the silver and black.

Everybody knows his skill set is superior to nearly every running back in the NFL.

Everybody also knows that his ability to stay healthy is one of Oakland's biggest concerns.

McFadden is one of the most electrifying backs in the NFL when healthy. But in the last two years, McFadden has suffered a hamstring injury, a fractured orbital bone and a Lisfranc injury.

Simply put, he's been the Derrick Rose of the NFL.

Though extremely dominant on the field, his health concerns have left the Raiders with more questions than answers.

Head coach Dennis Allen (via nfl.com) talked about his approach to dealing with his injury-prone running back:

I think the thing that you look at is as a running back, I mean, it's a tough position. They take some shots, and that's part of football. We can't baby him. We can't protect him. We got to go out there and play football and give him an opportunity to carry the ball, and we hope that he's able to stay healthy.

With the starters set to take on more action, McFadden will really put his body to the test for the first time since his season-ending foot injury against the Kansas City Chiefs last October.

His ability to run in between the tackles as well as cut it to the outside and turn the corner with his blazing speed makes him a prime target for the Lions defense.

He's a dual threat on the field and is as dangerous as Baltimore's Ray Rice and Chicago's Matt Forte in terms of running backs with receiving skills.

They're also aware of how dangerous he is in the flat, as he has shown in the early stages of the preseason.

Although it's only an exhibition game, McFadden will be treating this contest as one that counts in the win-loss column.

If McFadden plays a full season, the Raiders are serious contenders to win the AFC West, and they could end the playoff drought that's haunted them for nearly a decade.

If McFadden plays a full season.

Saturday's matchup with the Lions will gave McFadden that "regular season" feeling, a feeling that will become a reality in 17 days when the Raiders welcome the San Diego Chargers to Oakland for opening day.

But for now, McFadden must worry about the Lions and keeping that glass body of his in one piece.