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Can McFadden get in the zone?

The Sports Xchange
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--Running back Darren McFadden struggled during his first two years as he was affected by injuries. At the time, the Raiders were exclusively a zone blocking team, adding more gap and power schemes when Hue Jackson arrived as offensive coordinator in 2009.

Jackson immediately went to McFadden to inquire about the plays he liked best and zone runs weren't necessarily at the top of the list. The Raiders return to a zone scheme this year.

However, McFadden did have some decent games as a zone runner -- a 164-yard game against the Chiefs as a rookie -- and he feels the wasn't scheme as it much as it was sense of self.

"I feel like once you're playing with confidence, you can go out there and run the ball in any offense," McFadden said. "I don't feel what we're doing this year, going from a power scheme to a zone-blocking scheme, is going to make any difference. For the most part that was our offense in college, one cut and go."

--It turns out that the foot injury sustained by wide receiver Jacoby Ford is similar to the one he had last season. It came in a Thursday night win over the Chargers following a 41-yard gain.

Ford limped off the field, and wasn't seen again for six weeks. He returned for the finale, catching two passes for 19 yards.

He was injured on Aug. 17 in a preaseason game against Arizona.

"It's kind of up in the air at this point," Ford said when asked if he could play in the opener. "I'll have to see what the coaches and the training staff thinks. It's the same foot. For it to come back is frustrating."

Ford was also being counted upon to be the Raiders' primary kickoff return specialist -- he's got four touchdowns in two seasons -- and was going ot return punts as well.

--Punter Shane Lechler said his left knee is fine, it's the name-recognotion thing that's a problem at the moment.

Lechler had arthroscopic knee surgery before training camp but punted in the Raiders last two preseason games. He wasn't close to himself against Detroit, but punted eight times against Seattle and looked very close to top form.

"Today I hit the ball great," Lechler said. ``No symptoms. I think I'm on the right track."

Lechler is still attempting to learn about his new special teams teammates. The Raiders brought in waiver claims Keenan Clayton, Coye Francies and Phillip Adams and all will be special teams regulars.

"You pass 'em in the hallway and wish they would wear their jerseys all the time so you could tell who everybody is," Lechler said.

--Middle linebacker Rolando McClain's in-game demeanor tends to be relaxed rather than overly emotional, so he's getting a kick out of playing alongside rambunctious rookie weak side starter Miles Burris.

"I just try to tell him to relax," McClain said. "He's a very exciteable guy, and we love him. The hardest thing is, just tell him to calm down. He always wants to make his plays. He's a great young guy and I'm excited to see him played."

Burris, quiet, reserved and polite off the field, concedes he undergoes a bit of a personality transformation on game day.

"I think it's a fine line trying not to get too amped, because if there's more nerves you might get more winded," Burris said. "But it's going to be impossible not to be excited playing before a home crowd on Monday night football."

--After missing the better part of his rookie season due to injury, cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was putting the best face he could on being a member of the practice squad.

Chekwa, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, hurt his shoulder on his first day of training camp as a rookie and battled a knee injury throughout the season.

He struggled during training camp, and the Raiders cut him to get down to the 53-man roster. They did, however, pick up the phone and ask Chekwa back as a member of the practice squad.

"They see something in me to keep me around here," Chekwa said. "I know what I can do as a player. You just continue to work hard. I'm going to be all right. I've got some things I have to transition into this year, with a new system and everything.

"I haven't played much football in the NFL yet. It's just a little bump in the road."

BY THE NUMBERS
6 -- The number of different starting centers the Raiders have had over the last six years regardless of whether Alex Parsons or Stefen Wisniewski opens the game. The others were Samson Satele (2011), Jared Veldheer (2010), Chris Morris (2009), Jake Grove (2008) and Jeremy Newberry (2007).

QUOTE TO NOTE
"There are different ways to do things in this league. I think everyone in the organization has been open and receptive to conforming to the way Reggie and I are trying to do things." -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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