NAPA — Raiders coach Tom Cable spent part of his summer vacation breaking down video of his offense last year, and one thing jumped out at him: He can't have running back Darren McFadden on the field often enough.
"He's a real key for us," Cable said of Oakland's top draft pick in 2008. "When you look at us when we used him many ways, not just as a runner, but many ways, we were much, much better offensively. So (the goal is) to expand on that role and make him a key part of what we're trying to do."
McFadden rushed for 499 yards and recorded 285 receiving yards. However, he touched the ball an average of only 11 times per game.
To that end, Cable said, he is working on getting McFadden on the field as the primary back, in two-back sets and even as a wide receiver.
McFadden said he is game for whatever Cable throws his way this season, especially now that he has healed from the turf-toe and shoulder injuries that plagued him most of last season.
"If I stay healthy, and I'm going to try to stay healthy, I'm looking forward to seeing how much more they want to put me out there," McFadden said.
"But you're going to see a lot more this year."
Heyward-Bey blends in
First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey worked with the first-team offense quite a bit in the morning practice. He also spent time after practice working on his pass routes and pass-catching.
Wide receiver Heyward-Bey struggled a bit holding on to the ball in his first four practices. He is being counted upon to compete for significant playing time this season, if not a starting job.
Too soon to tell
Mario Henderson has worked with the first-team offense at left offensive tackle throughout camp. Trevor Scott has received far more time at right defensive end than incumbent starter Jay Richardson.
Even so, Cable cautioned against reading too much into how much and where guys are playing in the early stages of camp.
Defensive end Derrick Burgess' holdout now has reached four days. Cable still refuses to comment further on the situation, which is believed to be over his contract status. The Raiders are entitled to fine Burgess as much as $15,888 for each day he misses. "... Fullback Lorenzo Neal sustained an injured right toe in the morning practice. He limped around for a while but refused to miss any practice time.
— Steve Corkran