- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, and while the name of Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden is becoming more gristle for the rumor mill -- Dallas Cowboys? The New York Jets? -- there is nothing he can do about it.
All he can do is prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers, against whom he averaged 6.3 yards per carry in running for 113 yards last season, including a breathtaking 64-yard scoring romp.
"I'm feeling as good as you can this time of year," McFadden said. "I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting loose on Sunday.
"You always know Pittsburgh is going to play hard-nosed defense. That'll be the case on Sunday, but we have some things that we want to go out there and try, and hopefully make some big plays against them."
McFadden, who missed the Raiders' victory against San Diego on Oct. 6 because of a hamstring injury but returned against Kansas City before Oakland's bye, has 267 rushing yards with two touchdowns on 69 carries.
He is the Raiders' second-leading rusher, behind quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his 289 yards on 43 runs.
And in a contract year, McFadden would seemingly be appealing trade bait from the Raiders' perspective. After all, there's a reason Oakland has not re-upped him, what with his injury history.
Still, he has home-run potential.
"A lot of the offensive weapons ... obviously McFadden, there's a lot there to glean from last year's tape, at least from a personnel matchup standpoint," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "Obviously the schematics from the coaching staff are intact."
So yeah, McFadden knows he has something to prove. Not just to fans and the coaching staff, but to the league, in general.
It's fortunate for him, then, that at least center Stefen Wisniewski is on track to play Sunday.
"It's a great thing," McFadden said. "It's important to have the line getting healthy again. That's something we've been missing over the past couple weeks, so it's nice to get some important guys back in the right spot."
But will it mean a return to the form McFadden showed two years ago, when he was playing at a league MVP level before a Lis Franc injury ended his season?
He insists he has not changed his style, nor will he ever change it, despite his injury history and the sixth-year pro having yet to play more than 13 games in an NFL season.
"A physical game fits my style," he said. "It's always good. I love running in these games. You want to be able to go out and show what you can do. I'm a straight-forward type of runner. I'm not much of a shaker. I try to put a move on here and there, but for the most part I'm straight ahead.
"My dad always told me to go out and punch the tackler. He wanted me to be the aggressor. It's something that always sticks in my mind when I'm running."
5dEric D. Williams
5dEric D. Williams