When it was revealed earlier this week that Darren McFadden had a new injury following just one game back from his previous unrelated injury, it was ‘here we go again.' By the time the Friday injury report came out and McFadden was once again ruled out with an injury, it was old hat.
This is essentially the story of Darren McFadden's career in the NFL. He has spent six seasons with the Raiders after they made him the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Arkansas. In that time he has never finished a season. The most games he has ever completed in a season was 12 and he did that just once.
When the new regime came in, McFadden was one of only two high-paid players who didn't either get contract restructure or get cut. The other player was Darrius Heyward-Bey and he was cut last off-season.
The reason the team was reluctant to re-structure his deal was because it would have to come with an extension. They were not willing to commit to any additional years on top of McFadden's standing contract because they wanted to see if he could shed the injury problems that had plagued him his entire career.
That move turned out to be the right one as he has been injured both of the past two seasons.
McFadden was slowed by a hamstring strain early in the season that caused him to miss a game. Then he came back two weeks later only to re-aggravate the injury and he was put on the shelf for a month. When the coaching staff felt confident he could return without risk of yet another re-injury, he was activated.
That game was last week. He had five carries in that game and on one of those carries, he suffered an ankle injury.
Dennis Allen said Wednesday that the injury was more severe than he thought and he wasn't sure how long the recovery time would be. But it was something Allen said a week ago Friday that may more accurately foretell what's in store for McFadden.
"Obviously any time you have injuries at this point in the season, four games left, they're all concerning injuries," said Allen, suggesting that if a player is going to be out more than a couple weeks, he could be shut down the remainder of the season.
Kaluka Maiava was already one such player. He suffered a calf injury in the game last week and was placed on injured reserve. McFadden could see the same thing happen to him. It's something that should have happened in 2011 when he had his lis franc foot injury but then coach Hue Jackson kept him on the roster all season in the hopes he would be able to return at some point. He didn't.
It would be one thing if the Raiders were contending and/or in desperate need of his services, but neither is true. In fact, the opposite is true. They have been better off without him.
McFadden was averaging 3.5 yards per carry this season even when he was healthy. His replacement, Rashad Jennings, has averaged 4.7 yards per carry. He is also a far superior pass blocker to McFadden.
With all the hype and the countless McFadden No. 20 jerseys you see at games, McFadden has never lived up to the high hopes placed on him in his six years with the Raiders. He had one good season in 2010 in which he ran for 1157 yards. And that's it. It was just enough to keep up the hope that he could do it again and delay the inevitable.
That six-year rookie contract will be up at the end of this season and there is really no chance the team brings him back. At this point, there is no way of knowing for sure how long his injury will have him out. If he does manage to return, he will only see the field a handful of times the remainder of the season as his Raiders career sputters to its inglorious conclusion. If the injury forces a more abrupt end to his season, he has played his last game in a Raider uniform.