This might be one of the most intriguing positions on the Raiders roster. We drafted Darren McFadden a year after sinking a flyer on Michael Bush in the 4th round and just after inking Fargas to an extension which is a two-year deal in disguise. Technically, LaMont Jordan is still on the roster, but don’t expect him to be much longer.
It is hard to imagine McFadden not getting significant touches after sinking yet another huge signing bonus on a draft pick. He will, at WR, HB, RB, and maybe even QB. Expect McFadden to be involved in plenty of special formations. I’d compare him to a more physical Reggie Bush, and I expect that Fargas will be our Duece McAllister. Remember how well Bush did when Duece was healthy…now imagine an even more physical RB with similar speed. I believe McFadden can be special this year out of the gate and I don’t know many people that expect him not to be somewhat productive.
Fargas role is an interesting one. Where last year he broke down after we rode him hard nearly all year, this year he will have two younger backs to spell him and hopefully it will keep him healthier. I expect Fargas to do most of the tough yardage running and to wear down the opposition. His hard hitting running style should be good enough to wear down the legs of opposing linebackers and open holes for the younger running backs.
Michael Bush might be the most interesting player on our roster, and although I will be watching McFadden, I might be watching Mr. Bush even more. Bush was expected to be a first round pick before he got injured his senior year, and now after two years off he if finally healthy and ready to play. His leg is actually stronger than before so there is little risk of re-injury. The only thing I expect is a lot of rust. There were rumors out of Raiders sources last season that Michael Bush looked very good before Davis decided to IR him and keep Rhodes on the roster.
What is we drafted two very good running backs in the last two years? Where does that put us? The most simple answer is we are in a nice position. Fargas contract stipulates most of his money is going to be paid this year, and next year his salary will be more in line with a backup role and he can be easily traded or cut the following year. I believe his contract was structured that way for the very real possibility Bush turns into a solid running back. While Bush might be a short yardage back and/or a spell for Fargas this season, he could take on a larger role should there be an injury. He will take on a larger role next season if he performs well.
By number of touches I suspect the offensive to go through:
2008: 1. McFadden 2. Fargas 3. Bush
2009: 1. McFadden 2. Bush/Fargas
2010: 1. McFadden 2. Bush 3. Someone
The shift should be nice and gradual and we shouldn’t have to draft another RB for several years in the early rounds. At least that, I believe, is the plan.