I have heard the rumblings all over the "Black Hole" about Darren McFadden. Most of it is not good. He is often put in the same category as Jamarcus Russell and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
While Russell is a colossal bust and Heward-Bey is a project in the making, McFadden came to the "Black Hole" as a ready made weapon, fully decorated with the Doak Walker Award. In his last year at Arkansas he had over 1,800 yards rushing with 16 touchdowns. He also caught 21 balls with one going for a touchdown.
In the beginnig, McFadden looked as if he had Adrian Peterson written all over him. In week two, he had 21 carries for 164 yards. His break-out party also included a 19 yard touchdown run and a 50 yard run. The "Black Hole" raved about him then.
Shortly after the game, it was determined that he had turf toe. From there he was used sparingly. His rookie totals ended up being 500 yards with 4 touchdowns and a 4.4 yard average. He also showed some versatility catching 29 balls for 285 yards.
2009 was even worse for him. One day after a game that he had a -3 total for rushing yards, McFadden had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. That would lead to a season that would see him average just 3.4 yards per carry. The whispers in the "Black Hole" began; "Bust" and "injury prone" being among them.
A closer look shows me that the "bust" label that many in Raider Nation have cast on him is premature. His first year was a marred by turf toe. That can happen to any one. He is a very young man so he can and has come back from that. Remember what happened the last time the Raiders gave up on some one with turf toe. (Charles Woodson)
Last year's injury caused many to believe that McFadden is injury prone. 250 lb running back Michael Bush was the only running back the Raiders had that didn't get hurt last year. There should have been an extra insurance policy taken out on the Raider backfield because the offensive line did nothing for them last year.
300 lb quarterback Jamarcus Russell was the only one at his position to not miss significant time due to injury. No back under 250 lbs made through the season unmarked. McFadden can't be blamed there.
McFadden, along with running mate Bush will have the year we've been waiting for this year. The Raiders addressed the offensive line through free agency and the draft. However, the biggest addition to the Raider's offensive line won't be a player. Tom Cable has been relieved of play calling duties and will now get to focus on this unit.
The addition of Jason Campbell will also allow McFadden to use his skill set to cause match up nightmares in the passing game as well. Please do not give up on him yet!