He is the last man standing. Darren McFadden is the Raiders' only first-round pick since 2001 remaining after general manager Reggie McKenzie crossed out most of last season's 4-12 roster. Cornerback Michael Huff, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and linebacker Rolando McClain were all cut, and kicker Sebastian Janikowski (2000) is the only other of the team's first-round picks still in Oakland. Actually, McFadden is the last man running. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 3.27 yards per carry running sideways in since-fired offense coordinator's Greg Knapp's zone-blocking scheme, and he has been hard at work at the Raiders' facility. Soon, he will make his annual trip to the Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney, Texas, and work with the gold-medal-winning sprinter and his coaches. "My offseason was over last month," McFadden said. "It's back to the grind, getting ready for the season. And getting used to everybody." Greg Olson is the new offensive coordinator, and former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is the new offensive line coach, as the Raiders are going back to a predominantly straight-ahead power scheme, one in which McFadden averaged 4.75 yards per carry his first four seasons. McFadden's "most effective years have been in a downhill, power scheme," second-year head coach Dennis Allen said. "That's why Greg Olson and Tony Sparano are here." McFadden is enthused. "This is very exciting for me," McFadden said. "I am the type of guy who likes to go downhill, make a cut and go; that's my thing. We'll mix it up like we used to, and get some zones in there, but for the most part, I will be keeping my shoulders toward the line of scrimmage." Like Allen and Knapp, McFadden didn't think the change to the zone-blocking scheme, which calls for patiently running sideways and cutting back upfield, would be a big deal. They were all wrong.
Raiders' McFadden eager for season
San Francisco Chronicle | Apr 7