A former first-round pick, McFadden has had an extremely inconsistent career as the Raiders’ top ball-carrier. Although constant coaching changes and horrendous blocking hasn’t helped his productivity or effectiveness, the fact that he can’t manage to stay healthy isn’t helping the long-term outlook for his NFL career.
Every year since joining the Raiders back in 2008, McFadden has missed games due to an injury. Last year, a high-ankle sprain forced him to sit out four games in the middle of the season. Up to this point, McFadden has averaged five missed games per year.
Heading into a contract year, it will be integral for McFadden to stay healthy if he hopes to earn a new deal with the Raiders. If he falls to injury again, there’s a good chance that Oakland and GM Reggie McKenzie go in another direction.
Early reports from OTAs and minicamp indicated that his ankle is back to full strength and he is running with explosiveness, but you can only read so much from non-padded practices. Once the pads are on during training camp, we’ll get a better heal for where McFadden is heading into a make-or-break 2013 season.
While McFadden isn’t going to lose his starting job to Rashad Jennings or rookie Lavatius Murray, he will certainly see some decent competition from the two as he attempts to prove that he’s more than an injury-prone running back with a plethora of unrealized potential. Luckily for him, the new blocking scheme should help his cause; the unimproved offensive line won’t, though.
History tells us that McFadden will get hurt at some point this season. Until he plays all 16 games in 2013, there’s no reason to expect anything different.