Raiders RB Darren McFadden took a handoff from Matt Flynn on Friday and with no hesitation hit a sliver of air between guard Lucas Nix and center Stefen Wisniewski at nearly full speed.
No defender laid a hand on McFadden until he was at least three yards downfield -- which is roughly what he averaged per carry in 2012 in a zone scheme ill-suited to his nature as a runner. It was a simple running play in a non-padded practice on the first day of training camp, but illustrated nicely what McFadden does best. The zone scheme, which called on McFadden to move laterally before cutting back against the grain, helped drop his yards per carry to a career-low 3.3 yards.
"I love a downhill scheme, so I'm very confident about it," McFadden said. " I'll just be able to get out there and go downhill. That's one of my strong points."
"I feel like I'm a downill runner and that's something the coaches see also. By getting us in a gap scheme offense, they feel that suits me a lot more."
After averaging 5.2+ YPC in 2010 and 2011, the Raiders (ponderously) switched back to a zone-blocking running scheme, to which we already knew DMC is not well-suited. When healthy and in a power scheme, McFadden is a bona fide fantasy RB1. He averaged #2 and #8 RB numbers in 2010 and 2011 before the team changed to a zone-blocking scheme.