ALAMEDA -- If the Miami Dolphins elect to play their secondary deep to avoid the quick strike, Carson Palmer knows where to look.

So does anyone else who watched the Raiders' regular-season opener against the San Diego Chargers.

Darren McFadden stands atop the NFL with 13 receptions (for 86 yards) after Palmer targeted him 18 times in Monday's 22-14 loss to San Diego. McFadden had never caught more than seven passes in a game.

"Carson was going through his reads and checking the ball down, which is what the coaches teach him to do," McFadden said Wednesday. "I was just going out there and catching the ball when he threw it my way."

San Diego surprised the Raiders by playing what wide receiver Rod Streater called a "bail" technique. Defensive backs came up as if they would play press coverage, then suddenly dropped off 15 or 20 yards, cutting off all deep routes.

"It threw us off guard a little bit," wide receiver Derek Hagan said. "We definitely weren't expecting that. I guess our speed forced them to back off. You take what the defense gives you, and that's what we were doing."

The 18 passes intended to McFadden tied him with Brian Westbrook and Earnest Graham for the most passes thrown toward a running back since 2006.

There were instances where it looked like a schoolyard game, with the Raiders forcing the ball to the biggest, fastest kid on the block.

Palmer said it was a confluence of events, with the Raiders having some specialty plays designed for McFadden combined with the open underneath routes against a retreating defense.

"We had some plays scripted," Palmer said. "A lot of it was they were dropping against our deeper routes, and we didn't take a ton of shots downfield. There's not anyone better to get the ball to in the open field."

Miami coach Joe Philbin watched the Raiders' film with interest.

"I don't know that I can recall a player getting targeted so many times out of the backfield," Philbin said by conference call. "They know the guy is a very skilled offensive player. He gets the ball in his hands, you don't know what's going to happen."

With 15 rushes for 32 yards to go with the receptions, McFadden had 28 touches. The only time he had more was Week 2 of the 2010 season with 30 rushes for 145 yards and two receptions against the St. Louis Rams.

One game into the season, coach Dennis Allen realizes McFadden's workload will have to be watched closely. Marcel Reece was thrown two passes and caught them both, and the only other backs with carries were Reece (one) and Mike Goodson (two).


"We're going to have to use the other backs a little more to keep Darren a little more fresh," Allen said. "He played a lot of snaps. We felt like that gave us the best chance to win. We'll evaluate that as we go through the season, but we're going to have to get some other touches for some of the other backs so we can keep Darren healthy."

For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jerrymcd.