Sans a preseason carry, Raiders' McFadden ready

Sans a preseason carry, Raiders' McFadden ready

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comALAMEDA -- For the first time in his four-year NFL career, Raiders running back Darren McFadden is entering a regular season without any carries in the preseason.Not that he's worried about it heading to Denver for the late Monday Night Football opener much, mind you."It will just feel like college days," said the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up at Arkansas. "You didn't get any preseason games in college days. I just feel like when you go out there, either you're going to be able to do it or you're not going to be able to do it."I feel like I had some great openers, so (I'm) looking forward to it."As a freshman, McFadden ran for 70 yards and a touchdown on nine carries against Missouri State to open the 2005 season.
In 2006, he was limited to 42 yards on nine carries by USC while catching two passes and losing six yards.But in 2007, McFadden rumbled for 151 yards and a TD on 24 carries against Troy. He also caught two passes for 40 yards and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass.Of course, McFadden was shelved by the fractured lower left eye orbital he incurred in a blitz pickup drill with Quentin Groves on Aug. 3. And he wants to wear a tinted eyeshield on his helmet but shields with tint have to be prescribed by a physician and McFadden has yet to appeal to the NFL.RELATED: McFadden slowed in quest for eye shield
"It's one of those deals where you're anxious to get out there," he said of opening the season. "At the same time, you want to be cautious. You don't want to go out there and rush it too fast."I just want to carry over what I did last year. Go out there and run the ball and put my team in the best position I can to win the game."In the Raiders' record-setting 59-14 demolition of the Broncos in Denver, McFadden ran for a career-high 165 yards, on 16 carries, and scored four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving."You can't live on what you (did) last year," he said. "It's a new season. New faces out there, new guys ready to play ball. You just have to go out there with your 'A' game."Especially on the Monday Night Football stage. The Raiders have lost 11 straight primetime games and eight consecutive season openers."You know everybody will be watching," McFadden said, "but you want to go out and approach it like you approach any other game."Maybe even like a college opener.

Inactives: Raiders forced to face Brady with just three healthy cornerbacks


Inactives: Raiders forced to face Brady with just three healthy cornerbacks

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders can’t get healthy at cornerback, David Amerson in particular. The Silver and Black’s best cover man will miss a third straight game on Sunday with a foot injury that can’t get right, meaning the Raiders will face New England with just three healthy cornerbacks.

TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald will take most of the snaps, with safeties Karl Joseph, Obi Melifonwu and Shalom Luani able to assist in the slot should go with four or more receivers.

The Raiders chose not to sign a cornerback off the street despite Amerson’s ailments and Gareon Conley being moved to injured reserve.

They reinstated Darius Latham and then made him a healthy scratch due to their abundance at defensive tackle.

The Raiders are down an offensive lineman, with right tackle Marshal Newhouse unable to play with hip and quadriceps injuries. Vadal Alexander will start in his place.

In addition, defensive tackle Jihad Ward, quarterback Connor Cook, edge rusher Shilique Calhoun and offensive tackle Jylan Ware are also inactive.

The Patriots will play without starting center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon. Receiver Chris Hogan is also out with injury.

Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots


Raiders counting heavily on lightning rod CB against Patriots

MEXICO CITY – The Raiders cornerback David Amerson didn’t practice all week, but ran just well enough to be considered “doubtful” for Sunday’s game against New England.

Translation: Outlook for Sunday is not good, but Jack Del Rio’s fingers remained crossed real, real tight. The Raiders hope there’s a way he can be active against Tom Brady’s buzz saw attack, because their cover men are beat up.

Amerson has missed two straight with a foot injury, and has dealt with injury all year. Gareon Conley’s season officially ended Monday, when he was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Antonio Hamilton and Demetrius McCray were already there.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t reached out for reinforcements. That leaves TJ Carrie, Dexter McDonald and Sean Smith to play cornerback. Carrie’s been the rock, a sure tackler who hasn’t made spectacular plays but doesn’t give them up. McDonald has been forced into action, with holes let in his game.

Smith should be the No. 1 guy in this group, the steadying presence on the outside. That hasn’t been the case this year, where he lost a starting job in training camp and sub-package snaps during the season, only to have injuries to Conley and Amerson bring him in the fray.

He’s also been dealing with felony assault and battery charges in Los Angeles stemming from a July 4 incident in Pasadena.

Smith has been a lightning rod for fan criticism, a byproduct of his $9.5 million salary this year and explosive plays allowed early in the year.

If there’s an anvil weighing on his mind, teammates insist you’d never know.

“We’re human at the end of the day,” Amerson said. “You feel it, but you have to find a way to remain even keel and professional and do your job well.”

Smith will be counted on heavily Sunday against New England, especially if Amerson can’t play as expected. He has proven vulnerable to speed without help and proper disruption at the line of scrimmage, though that hasn’t been an issue lately because the Utah alum has recovered well after a rough start.

He got pulled after struggling against Vernon Davis in Washington. He didn’t play against the Chargers after giving up two huge plays to Baltimore the week before.

Amerson originally sprained his foot in Week 7 against Kansas City – he hasn’t played since – and Smith was called upon to respond. He wasn’t targeted in that game, and has been strong in coverage ever since.

Smith has allowed three catches for 12 yards in four targets over the last two games. The ninth-year veteran insists he wasn’t doing anything markedly different, and had zero interest in patting himself on the back for recent jobs well done.

“I’m not,” Smith said. “I’m out there doing my job, man, the best way I can.”

Smith says the off-field distractions during a roller-coaster season, one of his career’s most trying yet, haven’t impacted him much

“Nope. Not at all,” Smith said. “As long as I wake up a Raider, I’m all right. I’ll deal with whatever happens. I’ll always be there for my guys, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help our team win.”

Raiders defensive backs laud Smith’s locker room presence, saying he’s an excellent teammate. Cornerbacks in general must have a short memory when things go bad, to refocus and prevent that from happening again. Smith apparently has that in spades.

“I know how things go, especially when you have a target on your back,” Amerson said. “Sometimes you get hit with the perfect pass and you give up some plays. You can’t do anything about that but take advantage of the next opportunity. Sean’s a good player, and he definitely has that mindset.”

Smith will lend experience to this big game, something the Raiders need after suffering so many injuries.

"It sucks that so many of us have gone down,” Smith said. "You want to have all your guys out there, but that’s the NFL. Injuries happen. As long as everybody comes to work and acts like a pro, we’ll be all right. We all have a job to do. We all would like to start, but you have to be ready when your number’s called.”