How will Raiders utilize McFadden?

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
5:25
PM ET
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- So what, exactly, is Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson hoping to get out of running back Darren McFadden, should he suit up these final two games?

"I'd like to see," Olson said before catching himself, "we'd all love to see him stay healthy through these last two games and be very productive. You stay out of the 'what if's' and 'down the road's,' but I know he's expressed that he'd like to be with the Oakland Raiders.

[+] EnlargeMarcel Reece and Darren McFadden
Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsOakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece, left, and running back Darren McFadden could both be used in Sunday's game against the Chargers.
"So I think it's important he has two very productive games here and finish up."

If it sounds like Olson thinks unrestricted-free-agent-to-be McFadden needs to show up to even be considered to be re-signed, you're right. That is, unless the Raiders have already decided to move on from the teasingly talented McFadden, who played like a league MVP candidate at the start of the 2011 season but has missed 19 of 39 games since.

And yes, the oft-injured McFadden himself characterizes this as a "lost season" for him.

"I feel that way, but at the same time there's nothing I can do about that," he said this week. "That time is gone. I can only move forward and deal with the things I have in front of me."

He did practice in a full capacity Friday after being limited Wednesday and Thursday. They were his first practices since he went down with an ankle injury on Thanksgiving Day at the Dallas Cowboys. And he had missed the previous three games with a hamstring issue before getting injured at Dallas.

In his place -- McFadden initially strained the hamstring on Nov. 3 against Washington and missed the following week -- Rashad Jennings has been a steady runner for the Raiders, even as he's missed one game with a concussion.

Jennings, who has 679 rushing yards on the season, is averaging 4.6 yards per carry; McFadden, with 365 yards, is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, just above last season's career-worst 3.3 mark.

"Rashad's done a great job," McFadden said. "He's been a physical runner all year. He's been out there picking up great blocks and making great plays. He's done a great job. I'm really proud of the job he's done out there."

Then, if McFadden is a full go, and fullback Marcel Reece is not forgotten in the game plan, how will McFadden be utilized against the San Diego Chargers this weekend?

"If he's healthy, then I think the big thing for us would be to roll him," Olson said. "Obviously, Rashad has earned the right to play and has done some very good things for us. Darren has looked healthy this week, but we'll get a chance to gauge him early on in the game Sunday and see how he feels early on.

"We'll get a chance to roll those guys and we'll continue to, again, try to find ways, like we have throughout the season with Marcel."

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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