McFadden to get start at RB for Raiders

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - The focus on offense in the preseason for the Oakland Raiders was on developing JaMarcus Russell and the passing game.

The Raiders passed the ball nearly twice as often as they ran it in the exhibition games, a pattern unlikely to repeat itself once the regular season starts Monday night.

"You notice how we're trying to build this team offensively is to get where it can be more explosive scoring points, and that means throwing the football," coach Tom Cable said. "You've got to throw the football to score points. Will we ever get away from the run? No, but the bottom line is we had a purpose behind the preseason and I think we've accomplished that."

While questions still remain about the passing game, the Raiders are confident they will be able to run the ball in the opener against San Diego despite the lack of work in the preseason. Oakland ran the ball only 79 times in the four games, with Darren McFadden getting 12 carries, Michael Bush six and Justin Fargas just three.

"I wouldn't say we didn't run well. I'm going to say we didn't have enough opportunities to be able to run the ball well," Bush said. "I'm not concerned or worried about it."

McFadden got the starting nod for the opener of his second NFL season. Cable said that McFadden will get the bulk of the carries but he will spread the ball around to his other backs. Fargas said in training camp that he thinks there will be enough carries for all three backs to end up with more than 1,000 yards.

While that seems farfetched, Oakland did run the ball on 49.9 percent of its plays last season, the sixth-highest mark in the NFL. While the Raiders won only five games, all the teams ahead of them made the playoffs and were often running out the clock with the lead.

McFadden showed signs of stardom in his rookie season, but was slowed by a pair of turf toe injuries and an injured shoulder. McFadden ran for 499 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and scoring four touchdowns.

He missed three games in their entirety and was slowed for a handful more because of the injuries. McFadden offers the most versatility of Oakland's three backs, with Cable saying last year's offense clicked best when McFadden was moved around from receiver to running back.

"However you feel like it, whether you want to have me out in the backfield or spread me out to catch passes, line me up with a linebacker or a safety, just whatever way you can get me the ball and get me in space," McFadden said.

Fargas, the team's leading rusher the past three seasons, might not play Monday because of a hamstring injury that has slowed him since the second exhibition game against San Francisco on Aug. 22. Fargas returned to practice this week on a limited basis but Cable said it might not be worth risking further injury to play him this week.

That should give more chances to Bush, who gives Oakland a power back to pair with the speedy McFadden. After sitting out all of the 2007 season recovering from a broken leg, Bush made the most of his limited opportunities last season.

He had 16 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against Kansas City with Fargas and McFadden injured and had his best game in the season finale, when he carried 27 times for 177 yards and two scores in the fourth-highest rushing game by a Raider since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

"I think we'll all get our shot. Different personnel will be in the game so I'm pretty sure all of us will get some work in," Bush said. "This zone scheme is kind of unique, really. You don't need a whole lot of carries. It's like one cut and downhill. Just kind of get a feel for what the line is doing. You know, three to five is fine."

NOTES: Kickoff returner Nick Miller missed practice with a calf injury but Cable expects him to play Monday. ... The Raiders got a 24-hour extension to sell out the game in order to avoid a local blackout. ... Pro Bowl CB Nnamdi Asomugha said the chip fracture in his left wrist is not 100 percent but should not be a problem in the game. ... Practice squad WR Jonathan Holland has been moved to cornerback.


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