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Darren McFadden back; could be winding down his career with Raiders

  • Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden (20) runs against Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox (91) during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

ALAMEDA — Running back Darren McFadden returned to practice to begin what could be the final countdown to a mostly disappointing career with the Oakland Raiders.

The fourth-overall pick in 2008, McFadden has missed six games this season with hamstring and ankle injuries, continuing a frustrating pattern that has plagued him throughout his six years in the NFL.

“It feels great being able to be back out there,” McFadden said Wednesday. “It's one of those things, two games left, I want to just go out here and finish strong, go out here and fight with my teammates.”

McFadden has never played a full 16-game schedule and has sat out 19 of Oakland's past 39 games. In total, McFadden has missed nearly two complete seasons (29 games) due to injuries ranging from turf toe to Lisfranc.

That, along with another disappointing season this year, has set up an interesting offseason for the former Arkansas star.

McFadden is scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason. He had hoped to parlay a big season this year into an equally large payday next year but is on pace to finish with the second-fewest rushing yards of his career.

Yet the player who was drafted to be a centerpiece of Oakland's offense insists he has given no thought to next season or his impending status as a free agent.

“I'm just going out there playing football, and at the end of the year whatever happens happens,” McFadden said. “The only thing I can control is just going out there and playing football. It's a lot easier said than done, but at the same time if you get caught up in worrying about that you won't be able to focus on what you have to, the task at hand. I would love to be a Raider next year but I can only focus on the things that I can control. I have to let everybody else handle that."

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