OAKLAND, Calif. -- Despite missing most of the preseason with a hamstring injury, running back Darren McFadden likely will receive the majority of work this week when the Raiders visit the Tennessee Titans.
Some might say it's long overdue.
With Michael Bush questionable to play because of a broken left thumb that required surgery, McFadden is expected to take the majority of reps in Oakland's backfield for the season opener in Nashville.
"It's something I've been looking forward to, and I think I'm ready for it," McFadden said Thursday. "I didn't get much preseason play, but I don't think that's going to bother me much."
McFadden hurt himself early in training camp and had just seven carries during the preseason, all of them against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 28. He didn't play in the preseason finale, in which Oakland rested most of its projected starters.
The injury and down time are nothing new to McFadden. Since entering the NFL as the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, he has been beset by a variety of lingering injuries that have shelved him for long stretches. McFadden averaged 108.5 carries in his first two NFL seasons and has only one 100-yard game on his resume.
The plan entering 2010 was to have McFadden and Bush split the duties in Oakland's backfield. That changed slightly when Bush's left thumb was smashed between two helmets during the game against San Francisco.
Bush underwent surgery and had two screws inserted in his thumb, but Raiders coach Tom Cable remained optimistic that the former fourth-round pick wouldn't be out long. Bush joined his teammates in practice Wednesday, and Cable said he was "shocked" at a report saying the running back wouldn't play against the Titans.
The outlook was a bit more pessimistic Thursday.
Bush, who wasn't available during media access, didn't practice and strolled out to the field well after the rest of the players, wearing sweats and a white Raiders cap. He briefly served as an opposing player during an offensive line drill -- standing still and doing nothing more -- before watching the rest of practice.
"That will be a game-time decision," Cable said of Bush. "Everything looks like he'll (practice) tomorrow."
"That's one of the things the coaches talk about, that there's not a big drop-off from the first guy to the last guy," McFadden said. "We're looking to go out and prove we are a contender, we're not just a pushover."
McFadden wants to show that's true of himself, too. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, was released after three disappointing seasons. Now critics are lining up to take their shots at McFadden.
"I know what I'm capable of doing, so I just want to go out there and put it out there on the field," he said. "For me, you try not to think about it, you just do it."
Some wonder if McFadden can. Cable, in his second full season as the Raiders' coach, is among those with questions about the third-year running back.
"I think everybody is waiting to see Darren stay healthy," Cable said. "If you look at his production, it's been pretty good when he has played. That's what we want to see, just that consistent ability for him to go out there and stay on the field. When he does that, then all those questions or issues or whatever they are will be handled by him."
Notes: WR Chaz Schilens (knee), DE Desmond Bryant (elbow), CB Walter McFadden (hamstring) and LB Travis Goethel (back) also were held out of practice. ... Cable acknowledged the Raiders brought in free-agent DE Bobby McCray for a workout Wednesday. McCray was cut by the New Orleans Saints on Friday.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press