McFadden remains part of Raiders future

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie remains

committed to Darren McFadden despite a disappointing 2012 season

and hopes a new offensive system helps the running back get his

career back on track.

McKenzie spoke to beat reporters on Thursday for the first time

since Nov. 30 and looked back at a disappointing first season in

Oakland and ahead to the future. He said McFadden will be part of

that future as he enters the final year of his contract.

”I’m confident Darren’s going to play his last season,”

McKenzie said. ”Regardless of what’s out there, we have no

decision to do anything with Darren.”

After struggling early in his career with injuries and a zone

blocking scheme used in Oakland, McFadden broke out as a star in

two seasons with Hue Jackson running the offense. He averaged more

than 5 yards per carry in both those seasons and was one of the

league’s top big-play backs.

But he reverted to his early career form last season under

coordinator Greg Knapp, who ran the same zone blocking system that

calls on backs to run laterally before making a cut upfield rather

than attack the line of scrimmage from the start.

McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season – the

lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a

season.

”It’s obvious that Darren is much better on certain types of

plays,” McKenzie said. ”That goes without saying. That’s how

you’ve got to do it. When you talk about being productive, when you

talk about offensively moving the ball, scoring points, getting

some plays out of your big-play guys, you’ve got to find ways to

let him do what he does best. We didn’t. We didn’t do that.”

Knapp was fired by coach Dennis Allen after a 4-12 season, along

with special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach

Frank Pollack and linebackers coach Johnny Holland. McKenzie said

the Raiders are close to filling those openings and he hopes to

have everything finalized within the next few days.

McKenzie said he has talked to Norv Turner and Marc Trestman,

who both got other jobs, but would not name other potential

candidates. The Contra Costa Times reported that former St. Louis

head coach Mike Martz interviewed for the offensive coordinator job

and Jacksonville quarterbacks coach Greg Olson is reportedly also a

candidate.

After filling out the staff, the biggest task for McKenzie will

be upgrading a roster that lacked depth and stars in his first

season as the Raiders were hamstrung by having few draft picks and

a bloated salary cap.

McKenzie said he has more cap room to use on free agents this

offseason but believes the organization is a year away from having

the cap back in order.

”I’m looking for the future,” McKenzie said. ”We’re trying to

build something here. And with building, you can’t mortgage the

future. So we’re trying to lay down a good foundation, get the core

players that we think can build this team the right way and make

good, sound decisions, be it financial, the personnel, coaching,

whatever it is. You see the mistakes, correct it. That’s the only

way you’re going to get better, and that’s kind of our

philosophy.”

In other topics, McKenzie said neither he nor Allen has talked

to linebacker Rolando McClain since he was arrested in Alabama this

month for violating rules on car window tint and trying to lie to

police about his identity. McKenzie said he has no plans to talk to

McClain about the arrest.

McClain, a first-round pick in 2010, was a disappointment this

past season when he lost his starting job for ineffectiveness and

was suspended two games for conduct detrimental to the team.

McKenzie acknowledged it would have been complicated to release him

during the season because of salary cap ramifications but would not

indicate what McClain’s future was with the team.

McKenzie said he was pleased with the little he saw from backup

quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who started the final game of his

second season. Pryor threw two TD passes and ran for a third score.

McKenzie said he was happy with how Pryor protected the ball and

was intrigued by his mobility.

”You can see the plays, and when things break down, where he

can kind of create and do some things,” McKenzie said. ”But he

had a chance to make some throws and he did pretty good. I was

encouraged. Hopefully, the new offensive coordinator will find a

way to see what he can do best during this offseason and see what

he looks like in preseason games.”

NOTES: McKenzie said QB Carson Palmer is healing from cracked

ribs and a bruised lung that sidelined him for the season finale

and should be ready to be on the field for OTAs in May. … G Mike

Brisiel had ”major surgery” on an ankle injury that hindered him

all season. … RT Khalif Barnes had surgery on a triceps injury

and LB Miles Burris had arthroscopic surgery on an injured

knee.

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