Darren McFadden to face Cowboys

Updated: November 27, 2013, 4:23 PM ET
By Paul Gutierrez | ESPN.com

IRVING, Texas -- As expected, Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden will play on Thursday against the Dallas Cowboys for the first time since aggravating his strained right hamstring on Nov. 3.

It sets up an intriguing situation for Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, with Rashad Jennings excelling in the absence of McFadden, who has missed three straight games and four overall this season.

Olson, though, said this week the Raiders would ride the "hot hand" of Jennings, who has rushed for 413 yards the past four weeks while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

[+] EnlargeDarren McFadden
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SportsDarren McFadden, out since Nov. 3, will return from a hamstring injury to face the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen concurred.

"The guy that's in there and being the most effective will be the guy that gets the opportunity," Allen said Wednesday. "But I see them both getting a chance to carry the ball. We'll see how it goes. We'll play (it) out as the game plays along."

The injury-prone McFadden, who is in the final year of his rookie contract after being the No. 4 overall draft pick in 2008, has missed 17 of the Raiders' past 36 games with various ailments.

"Like you said, man, there's always something," McFadden said on Monday. "To me it's just like maybe something small, like an ankle or hamstring, turf toe or just something. But you just try to stay positive and just keep working hard and keep moving forward."

McFadden, who is averaging 3.6 yards per carry after averaging a career-low 3.3 yards in 2012, also acknowledged criticism.

"I guess for me, I've dealt with so much criticism for so long I've always just, you just have to turn your face to it," he said. "You can't pay attention to it. You have to stay positive and focus on the task at hand."

In seven games this season, McFadden has 352 rushing yards on 98 attempts this season with four rushing touchdowns in seven games.

"To me, I could have been back last week but I just have to take my time with it," he said. "I know if I rush it back again, this time it will probably be over for the season.

"So I want to just be able to make sure it's all the way back right before I get out there again." But while McFadden is healthy enough to play, receiver Denarius Moore and defensive end Jason Hunter will both miss their second straight games due to injury.

Paul Gutierrez

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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