Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders Scouting Department have had a hard time drafting college players that can actually play in the NFL. Rather than drafting on talent, it seems as though they have been drafting by size, speed, and potential, which by the way is not how pro teams should scout. That might work for colleges but not where grown men play, in the NFL. Most recently, the Raiders selected JaMarcus Russell with the number one overall pick, but after three unproductive and highly-paid seasons, the Raiders released him back in May. Since the release of Russell, all eyes are now focused on the Oakland Raider under the most pressure to perform, Darren McFadden, who was drafted fourth overall in ’08 out of the University of Arkansas. Due to injury, a poor offensive line, and being on the team Al Davis owns, McFadden has yet to live up to his high draft status, but his season brings his best opportunity to live up to those expectations.
They no longer have the incompetent Russell behind center and now have a veteran QB as their starter in Jason Campbell. That right there should give him optimism about this season and give Raiders fans a glimpse of hope. The coaching staff has been upgraded by hiring a real offensive coordinator, the offensive line has added young talent and depth, and the defense is greatly improved and should provide McFadden and the offense more opportunities to win some games. Since day one, critics have been calling him a bust and questioning his heart, talent, and ability. This can’t be sitting well with him. McFadden wants to perform up to the standard he set for himself in college and he will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Darren McFadden joined WQAM in Miami to talk about how he foresees the season going for him, what the difference is between JaMarcus Russell leading the huddle vs. Jason Campbell, and what Jason Campbell’s demeanor has been like since joining the Raiders.
How the team looks so far during preseason:
“It is a big roar around this team. Everyone is looking forward to it. We have been on a downslide the last couple of years but this year is a different feeling around the team. I am just looking forward to going out there and showing the talent that we have on the field showing them what we can do.”
How he foresees the season going for him:
“I am looking forward to it, like you said, it has been a rough couple of years, but I feel like it is my time to go out there and show them what I can do. With Jason Campbell at quarterback he has been doing a great job at running the offense, he knows a lot of things, he puts us in the right position to make plays. I am looking forward to going out there and playing with them. I am very excited about my upcoming season.”
What the difference is between JaMarcus Russell leading the huddle vs. Jason Campbell:
“Jason is just a guy with more experience. When he comes into the huddle he takes control, he gets you into the right situations to make the right plays. He goes through his reads and his progressions and he makes the right move.”
What Jason Campbell’s demeanor has been like since joining the Raiders:
“I feel like he comes out here like it is a fresh start for him. He goes out there and practices with an upbeat tempo. He is a guy that comes into the huddle, like I say, he takes control. I don’t feel like he has anything hanging over his head as far as coming from Washington. He is just going out there and preparing and getting ready for the rest of the season.”
What he sees in Darrius Heyward-Bey that impresses him most:
“He is a guy that has exceptional speed and he can blow by a defender. He has improved a lot from last year. He is catching the ball great, he is running perfect routes and he is getting into the offense and getting in-sync. He is a guy that goes out there and puts in the extra work that it takes to be a great player in the league.”
What Al Davis’ involvement has been lately with the team:
“He comes to practice here and there. As far as what he does running the team, that is something that I don’t know anything about between him and what the coaches have going on. He comes out there to practice when he gets a chance to. It is a great honor to play for.”