Published November 05, 2012
ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have been struggling to run the ball with a healthy Darren McFadden for most of this season.
Now that McFadden and backup Mike Goodson are both dealing with high ankle sprains that put their status in doubt for this week, the Raiders could have even more concerns.
Coach Dennis Allen said X-rays and an MRI on McFadden came back negative and Goodson was undergoing an MRI on Monday. He said the team would have to see how both players respond and he would not rule them out yet for when the Raiders (3-5) play in Baltimore against the Ravens (6-2) on Sunday.
McFadden hurt his right ankle on the first or second carry of the game and tried to play through it before leaving for good just before halftime. McFadden had just seven carries for 17 yards and caught two passes for no yards in the loss.
"Darren wanted to be back out there, so that wasn't a case where you risk any further injury," Allen said. "Darren is a competitor, he wanted to be back out there, so we put him back out there. Then came in at halftime, he just wasn't going to be able to do it, so we kept him out the rest of the game."
McFadden was one of the most dynamic backs in the league the past two seasons when healthy. But he missed 19 games over his first four seasons — including nine last season — with foot, toe, shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries.
While he has been healthy so far this year, he has been far from effective, rushing for just 455 yards and two touchdowns in eight games. His 3.3 yards per carry average is sixth-worst in the league and the lowest for a Raiders player since Pete Banaszak's 3.2 average in 1976.
Goodson has shown flashes at tailback with 111 yards on 17 carries and 14 catches for 173 yards but might not be able to go.
That leaves Taiwan Jones as the only healthy halfback on the roster. Jones has one carry and one reception all season and has been limited by injuries and ball-security issues.
"That's obviously something that he's got to improve on," Allen said. "He's got to make sure that he can protect the football and he's got to make sure that he understands what his assignments are. As we get more comfortable with those things, he'll earn more playing time."
Allen said the team would look at bringing in a running back this week as insurance. The Raiders also could give more time to versatile fullback Marcel Reece, who had eight catches for 95 yards and a touchdown Sunday. Seven of those catches came after McFadden got hurt.
He also has 48 rushes for 234 yards in his career.
"Obviously with the health of our backs right now, he becomes more of an option there at the tailback position, but Marcel, he's provided some options for us," Allen said. "We've used him in a lot of different ways. Now every week he doesn't catch the ball for 100 yards or rush for a 100 yards, but he's very much a part of our offense and vital to our offense.
Along with possibly signing a running back, the Raiders have roster decisions to make on injured cornerback Ron Bartell and linebacker Aaron Curry.
Bartell has been on short-term injured reserve since breaking his left shoulder blade in the season opener. He practiced all last week and would be eligible to play against the Ravens if the Raiders decide to activate him.
"It's tough to get back," Bartell said. "But I definitely feel a lot better, a lot more confident. I've got another week to get prepared, and that's what I plan on doing and we'll make that decision on Saturday."
The Raiders have to make a decision on Curry even sooner. He has been on the physically unable to perform list all season with injured knees. If he is not activated before Wednesday's practice, he would either have to be cut or placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Also, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant was resting at home Monday after spending the night the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. He did not play in the second half and will need to undergo further tests before he is able to resume practicing.
NOTES: S Matt Giordano, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, wanted to return but was held out as a precaution. ... Injured CB Shawntae Spencer (right foot) will run on the field Tuesday to see how he is progressing and could practice Wednesday. ... RT Khalif Barnes (groin) will be back at practice Wednesday for the first time since Week 2 and Allen said the staff has discussed starting rookie Tony Bergstrom at right tackle in place of the struggling Willie Smith. ... Allen said there have been no discussions about bringing back CB Stanford Routt, who was waived by Kansas City on Monday.
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