NFL

Raiders RBs McFadden, Jennings back at practice

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The Canadian Press
10/9/2013 7:13:08 PM
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Running backs Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings were back at practice for the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday despite being hampered by hamstring injuries.

McFadden practiced for the first since getting hurt in the first half of a game against Washington on Sept. 29. Jennings was also back at practice after hurting his hamstring in the first half Sunday night against San Diego.

Both players were limited, but it was a good sign that they could get back on the field so early in the week.

"That was good," coach Dennis Allen said. "I thought both of them looked pretty good in practice today in the reps that they took and hopefully we'll be able to have both of those guys during the game."

Getting the running game going this week against Kansas City (5-0) will be a priority for the Raiders (2-3). The Chiefs are 30th in the league allowing 5.3 yards per carry while ranking tops in sacks with 21.

The Chiefs have the top third-down defence in the NFL, allowing just 23.5 per cent to be converted into first downs and have been particularly stingy in long yardage situations, allowing just 5 of 47 conversions on third and at least 6 yards.

"We've got to be able to stay ahead of the sticks," quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. "You start getting into third-and-long situations against these guys and it's been tough sledding for a lot of teams this year, when you get in third-and-long situations.

"So we've got to be able to stay on schedule offensively, stay ahead of the sticks, and when we do get to third down, we've got to be able to convert."

The Raiders want to be careful with McFadden, considering he has missed 24 games in five-plus seasons with a variety of injuries.

With a week off next week, Oakland could choose to rest McFadden to make sure this hamstring injury doesn't linger.

McFadden had good success against the Chiefs last season, rushing for more than 100 yards in each meeting. McFadden has been inconsistent this season.

More than half of his 215 yards rushing have come on four carries against lowly Jacksonville on Sept. 15. On his other 49 attempts, McFadden is averaging 2.2 yards a carry.

But the Raiders still want that big-play ability on the field.

"If I have the sidekick D-Mac with me we'll be good to go," Pryor said. "I'd love to have D-Mac playing with me. That would take a lot of load off of me and the guys will be guessing."

Jennings played well in McFadden's place against the Redskins, rushing for 45 yards and catching eight passes for 71 yards. He had 10 carries for 41 yards last week against the Chargers before the injury.

"We really can't wait to have us two as a one-two punch, both of us going," Jennings said. "It will be fun."

The Raiders have been one of the league's top rushing teams so far this season, ranking ninth with 130.8 yards per game and fourth with 4.7 yards per carry. They are also tied for the league lead with nine runs of at least 20 yards.

Much of that success has been helped by the running of quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who leads the team with 229 yards rushing and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry.

Pryor's proficiency running the read-option game makes it difficult for defences to key on the running back, leading to holes for big gainers.

"I think having Terrelle Pryor back there helps our running game because he's a guy that teams have to account for; whether he's got the ball in his hands or not, teams have to account for him," Allen said. "So, I thought that helped our run game."

NOTES: RT Tony Pashos (groin) was back at practice after missing last week's game, while C Stefen Wisniewski (knee) remains sidelined. ... The Raiders signed DT Daniel Muir, who has played 46 career games with the New York Jets, Indianapolis and Green Bay. ... Oakland also re-signed OL Jack Cornell to the practice squad two days after cutting him from the active roster. ... Safety Charles Woodson was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after tying the NFL record with his 13th career defensive TD on a fumble return and getting his 56th career INT.

Darren McFadden (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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