The Skinny: Oakland Raiders starting RB Darren McFadden is scheduled to make his return to the field on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys, his first game action since November 3rd. McFadden has been out with a moderate hamstring strain. McFadden was able to participate in light practice on both Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for this week’s game.
The Injury: This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as McFadden has a lengthy history with muscle injuries of the lower extremities in addition to a rash of knee and ankle/foot issues. This is D-Mac’s second go around with hamstring strains this season, which is what necessitated a lengthier time away from the field in order to allow the full healing process to take place. He even went as far as to say that the hamstring is still sore at times, but he was healthy enough last week to take the field, but erred on the side of caution.
You’re probably tired of hearing me say this, but the more often you strain a muscle, the more likely it is to re-injure and the longer it takes to recover. We’ve seen both sides of that coin with McFadden and because he’s dealt with so many injuries in his career, we come to expect every injury to take longer than it should. We’ll have to take a good look at him this time around to see if he has fully regained his burst and explosiveness off the line, especially with lateral cuts and changing speeds. One thing to watch for is his stride length on the side with the strain, as someone who isn’t quite 100% ready to return to the field won’t be able to fully extend their strides, causing more short, choppy steps.
The Prognosis: I’m not touching him this week. I’ve remained very consistent with McFadden over the years and I haven’t seen anything to make me think otherwise. I expect him to come back to a time share with Rashad Jennings and tantalize us with his talent and burst before ripping our collective hearts out. With Week 13 being a “I need to make the playoffs” or “I need to position my team for the playoffs” week, you’re better off going with a more trustworthy choice. Avoid him this week.
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