NAPA -- Darren McFadden took a pitchout, cut to his left and was met immediately by rookie linebacker Miles Burris during the Raiders' first practice of training camp Monday morning.
Burris pulled back, hands in the air, allowing McFadden to bounce off and escape unscathed. It was a non-contact practice, so hitting was off limits. It is especially true in McFadden's case.
McFadden gets it. Until he makes it through a season unscathed, the talk will continue. He's an injury waiting to happen.
"You hear it all the time, but that's something I can't do anything about," McFadden said the previous evening. "It's not like I'm going out there and just falling over and getting hurt. I'm out there playing and playing hard. I can live with that if I get hurt that way."
Is McFadden injury-prone or the victim of some freak occurrences?
In his rookie year it was turf toe, which McFadden sustained on both feet, starting with the second game of his career. It hampered him all season, finishing with 499 yards rushing while missing three games.
In Year 2 was in-season arthroscopic knee surgery and bum shoulder which was surgically repaired following the season. He gained 357 yards and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry. The name McFadden and the term "bust" were being uttered in the same sentence, as backs such as Tennessee's Chris Johnson excelled.
Finally, the No. 4 overall pick looked every bit the star he was in Arkansas in
It served as a run-up to last season's 614-yard explosion out of the gate, with McFadden turning awkwardly after catching a short pass from Jason Campbell early in the seventh game of the season. The Lisfranc sprain in his arch cost him the rest of the season.
In his last 20 games, McFadden has 1,771 yards on 336 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, with 66 receptions for 661 yards. He's got 15 touchdowns -- 11 rushing and four receiving.
The only bust being used in conjunction with McFadden is the kind they put in the Hall of Fame, if only he could remain healthy. He remains philosophical.
"I can't say I'm unlucky because in my mind I'm a very blessed person to even be playing in this league," McFadden said. "I just go out there and take it one day at a time. I can't control injuries. If I get hurt, I'm going to get hurt going hard. ... I'm not going to go out there and play not to get hurt."
A case in point was McFadden's broken orbital bone incurred during a blocking drill against linebacker Quentin Groves. McFadden lit into Groves during a blocking drill, only to have his helmet get pushed into his eye socket.
Coach Dennis Allen isn't planning on treating McFadden as if he were a piece of glassware in the preseason. The San Diego Chargers used to sit out LaDainian Tomlinson for the entire preseason to avoid injury.
The Raiders have a new offensive system, have returned to zone blocking, and McFadden will get work.
"That's the plan," Allen said. "We'll look at that on a game by game basis. I'm not sitting here right now thinking that there's anybody on our team that we're planning not to play."
Said McFadden: "If he wants me out there eight or nine plays, that's fine. If he wants me out there 20 plays, that's fine. It's playing football. I love being out there doing it."
McFadden has who seems at his happiest on the field, a player who actually likes training camp.
"`The type of injury that I had is something that set me down for a long time," McFadden said. "A lot of people may think it's hard to bounce back and get back in the flow of things, but for me, once I'm out there on the field, I feel like I'm at home, so I just get out there and try to pick up where I left off."
Burris took Curry's spot with the first team defense. DeMarcus Van Dyke subbed for Bartell along with Shawntae Spencer.
Van Dyke had an excellent first practice with a pair of pass breakups.
A couple of exceptions _ long strikes from Carson Palmer to Eddie McGee and Matt Leinart to Thomas Mayo.
The second-string offensive line has Joe Barksdale at left tackle, Tony Bergstrom at left guard, Parsons at center, undrafted free agent Lance Nix at right guard and Zach Hurd at right tackle.