ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden went through a light practice Wednesday and will play against Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.
McFadden has not played since straining a hamstring early in the first half against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. He has missed four games total this season and 27 overall in five-plus years since being the fourth-overall draft pick in 2008.
The Raiders have run the ball much more effectively since McFadden has been out.
Rashad Jennings has rushed for 413 yards and two touchdowns over the last four weeks. The veteran backup has piled up more than 100 yards of total offense in each of the four games while helping fuel the league’s fifth-ranked running game.
Coach Dennis Allen plans to use both against the Cowboys.
“The guy that’s in there and being the most effective will be the guy that gets the opportunity,” Allen said. “But I see them both getting a chance to carry the ball. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll play it out as the game plays along.”
McFadden said he is still sore from the hamstring injury — his second this season — and added that he needed the extra time off as a precaution.
“To me, I could have been back last week but I just have to take my time with it,” he said. “I don’t want to. I know if I rush it back again this time it will probably be over for the season. So I want to just be able to make sure it’s all the way back right before I get out there again.”
Even if he remains healthy the remainder of the season with Oakland, it’s questionable whether the 26-year-old running back will be invited back next year.
Slated to hit the free agent market in 2014, McFadden was penciled in as the centerpiece of the Raiders’ offense. Injuries and ineffectiveness have dampened expectations, however.
McFadden is third on the team in rushing behind quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Jennings. He’s on pace to finish with fewer than 615 yards for the fourth time in six years and is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry.
That could hurt his value in the offseason when McFadden tries to secure a new contract. For now, he’ll have to settle for sharing playing time with Jennings in the Raiders’ backfield.
“I don’t want to get into the game plan as far as exactly what we’re going to do but I would think both of those guys will get in the game and play,” Allen said. “As many good players as you can get out there, the better you’ll be.”
That includes left tackle Jared Veldheer, who has been out since suffering a torn triceps in training camp. The 6-foot-8, 321-pound lineman has practiced with Oakland’s first-team offense this week and is expected to be added to the Raiders’ 53-man roster before Thursday’s game.
“It’s been good in what we’ve asked him to do so far,” Allen said. “Obviously it’s been limited work, not a lot of contact work. We’ll watch him in the game and see how he’s doing and see how he’s progressing. If he’s playing well he’ll continue to play a lot.”
Oakland has lost three of its last four and hasn’t won on Thanksgiving since 1968.
Notes: DT Daniel Muir and backup RT Menelik Watson took part in the full practice after being limited earlier in the week. Both are questionable to play against the Cowboys. … WR Denarius Moore, who is second on the team in catches and receiving yardage, won’t play because of a shoulder injury. … DE Jason Hunter (foot) has also been ruled out.
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