It’s no surprise that RB Rashad Jennings is still working his way back from a concussion sustained in the Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys. But the Darren McFadden component here is a surprise. Let me clarify.
It’s not a shock that McFadden is on the injury report. What is surprising is that it is not because of his recently strained, then subsequently aggravated hamstring. Now McFadden is listed with an ankle injury, one that was apparently suffered during Thursday’s game. Unfortunately for McFadden, the Raiders, his loyal (er, hopeful?) fantasy owners and anyone else on the McFadden spirit squad, this latest news pretty much takes all the wind out of any remaining sails. Coach Dennis Allen’s comments Wednesday indicated this latest McFadden ailment was not trivial.
"He actually injured the ankle in the game the other day and it was [hurt] more than what we had initially thought," Allen said.
McFadden has not practiced since and looks poised to miss yet another game. As ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez noted, prior to the Cowboys game McFadden had played in only 17 of the Raiders' previous 36 games. Less than 50 percent participation does not bode well for McFadden’s long-term future with the Raiders (he is in the final year of his rookie contract) but that is a discussion for another time. In the interim, the Raiders will take it day-to-day with him, but it’s unclear when -- or if -- he will return.
Jennings has participated in back-to-back practices on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, a good sign of post-concussion progress. He still has some steps to complete to be able to play on Sunday but appears on track. It is worth a reminder that until a player takes the field, there is always the chance that symptoms can return, which will force a late deactivation.
With McFadden out and Jennings limited, the Raiders had Taiwan Jones on the field taking practice reps at running back Wednesday. Of course there is still Marcel Reece to lean on, but the reps for Jones are worth noting, especially if Jennings is unable to play. As the weekend rolls around, it will be worth keeping an eye on how the Raiders’ backfield is shaping up.