Darren McFadden has been haunted by his performance in last week's loss to the Denver Broncos, reliving every detail of his three fumbles that helped contribute to Oakland's 23-3 defeat.
"It's been hard for me this week because I've been thinking about it," McFadden said Wednesday. "That's something you just have to try and shake it off, come back from it in the next game. It's all about having a short memory."
In a performance that left enough blame to go around to the entire team, McFadden shouldered his share for his miscues.
McFadden fumbled on the second play from scrimmage when he lost the ball on a screen pass. Center Chris Morris recovered that one, sparing Oakland a turnover. He fumbled on a run up the middle in the second quarter, getting saved when Zach Miller recovered it.
The most costly fumble came in the third quarter two plays after Denver turned it over deep in its own territory, giving Oakland a brief bit of hope. McFadden ran a sweep around right end and lost a fumble just before going out of bounds, spoiling Oakland's best opportunity for a touchdown all day.
"It wasn't any big hits or anything that made the fumble," he said. "It just was me not being ball conscience and having my arm all the way tucked in."
McFadden came into the league with a reputation as a fumbler. He lost 9 of his 23 fumbles in three seasons at Arkansas, but many of those came on kickoff returns or as the quarterback in the wildcat formation.
He did a better job with ball security last season, fumbling just three times as a rookie and losing only one of them. But after three weeks this season, McFadden has four fumbles in 47 touches for the worst rate of any player with at least 20 touches.
Perhaps just as concerning has been McFadden's inability to break off the long runs the Raiders expected when they drafted him fourth overall out of Arkansas in 2008. He has only three carries all season that have gone for more than 10 yards, with his longest being just 15.
McFadden is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry this season. He has failed to reach 100 yards rushing in his last 14 games since doing it for the only time in his career against Kansas City in Week 2 last season.
With defenses keying on the run even more than usual because of the struggles of JaMarcus Russell and the passing game, the Raiders have had trouble running the ball early this season.
"We have to run the football better," coach Tom Cable said. "We have a very talented backfield. So that falls directly on my shoulders, being able to run the football, because that's what I know how to do."
The Raiders are 20th in the league in rushing at 103.3 yards per game. Oakland ranked in the top 10 the past two seasons, relying almost entirely on the running game.
With the Broncos stacking the line last week and the Raiders playing from behind almost from the start, there were few opportunities for running. But this week, the going could be easier against a Houston defense that is allowing an average of 6.3 yards per carry through three weeks.
"We haven't been in position to where we can stay committed to the run," backup Justin Fargas said. "We put ourselves in some tough situations to where we can't really do what we do so I think the main thing is just trying to stay on track, commit ourselves to the run game, because that's where our strength is, and don't waver from that."
Notes: The Raiders brought back kickoff returner Justin Miller and placed DB John Bowie on injured reserve with a knee injury. ... WR Chaz Schilens did not practice and does not seem likely to return this week from a broken foot. ... S Hiram Eugene missed practice and is questionable with a calf injury.