ALAMEDA – Darren McFadden didn’t get off to a roaring start. The Raiders star running back averaged just 2.8 yards per carry against the Indianapolis Colts, and he was clearly a second-option to quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s improvisational style.
All this after the offense was centered on McFadden for months. He understood that, with Pryor under center, concessions had to be made.
He was still involved in the read option – which remains an accent to the base offense – although Pryor typically kept it himself. Head coach Dennis Allen said Pryor made the right reads on those plays.
Designed runs are still a part of the Raiders plan. Against the Colts, he had 17 for 48 yards.
“Darren understands how the read-option functions and when we call those types of plays, and again, that’s part of what we do, it’s not exclusively what we do,” Allen said. “There will be times when we turn around and hand the ball to Darren and give him an opportunity that he knows he’s running the football. Darren’s going to be fine, guys. Everybody’s got a lot of concern about that, but Darren’s going to be fine.”
The Raiders had the second-best rushing attack in Week 1, totaling 171 yards and a solid 5.2-yard average. Most of that came from Pryor, who had 112 yards on 13 carries.
“We don’t care how we get the rushing yards or who gets the rushing yards,” Allen said, “but we’ve got to be able to run the football.”
McFadden certainly should. He’s entering a contract year, where this season’s numbers (and his ability to stay healthy) will dictate his value with the Raiders or on the open market.
If he crosses the finish anywhere near last season’s career-low 3.3 yards per carry, McFadden won’t be held in the esteem suggested by his talent.
At this early point, McFadden isn’t concerned with carry volume. He believes his yards will come, and that Pryor’s presence will make his job easier.
[RELATED: Raiders give Reece three-year extension]
“Being able to have a running quarterback, that’s something that’s going to open up the running game for a running back,” McFadden said. “A lot of defenses try to key in on him, but at the same time they have to worry about the running back also.”
Pryor had a solid start, but remains a wild card. Opponents aren’t going to take focus off McFadden just yet, so stopping him will still be a high priority.
“I’m sure they’re going to put eight or nine men in the box just to try to stop our run,” McFadden said. “When our passing game gets to open up, it’s going to be something that is going to help us out a lot also.”