For running back Darren McFadden, the third time – or in this case – the third year – could be the charm.
As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for training camp in Oxnard next week, it may finally be his time.
His time to show Cowboy coaches that their gamble on him was not in vain.
His time to show Cowboys Nation he still has a 2015-like season deep inside waiting to reveal itself once again.
His time to prove once and for all that he can and should be the lead backup to star Ezekiel Elliott.
And if news reports are to be believed, he just may get the chance to be more than a backup. According to ESPN and several media outlets, Elliott could be facing a possible one-or-two game suspension over domestic violence allegations. Which means the Cowboys will be looking for a fill-in at the spot.
“It’s the summer time right now so it’s basically all-out grinding and getting ready for the season,” McFadden said during practice for last month’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game hosted by Dirk Nowitzki and before news of Elliott’s possible suspension came out. “I can’t put a number on how far we can go or how many games we will win. Just going to go out there and grind.”
As of deadline, Elliott’s fate was not known but it has to be in the back of McFadden’s mind as he enters camp next. The fact is, the ‘Boys are going to be looking for a little help at the running back position and he’ll have to battle one Alfred Morris for time.
While both are talented, McFadden, who turns 30 next month, has more to offer in the way of a passing game, a more well-rounded set of skills including blocking and receiving, and seems better suited for the backup role.
McFadden burst onto the scene with at two year deal in 2015 to be one of the candidates to help replace the recently DeMarco Murray. He had a stellar season after playing off the bench in a backup role in the first five games of the season. He took over the lead role in Week 7 totaling a season high 152 yeards rushing. The first for a cowboys running back in 2015.
McFadden would remain as the starter and lead running back and finished with 1,089 rushing yards (4th in the NFL), after only gaining 129 yards in his first 5 games. Other stats he put up for the year included playing in all 16 games, while posting 1,417 scrimmage yards (4th among running backs), 4.6 yards-per-carry (3rd in the NFL among the 27 running backs with at least 160 carries), 5 100-yard rushing games (2nd in the NFL), 52 rushing first downs (4th in the NFL), 9 20-plus-yard runs (4th in the NFL), and 2 40-plus-yard runs (4th in the NFL). His 3 rushing touchdowns was second on the team, his 40 receptions was 4th and his 328 receiving yards was 2nd-most in his career for a single season.
Unfortunately for McFadden and Cowboys Nation, he could not duplicate that success the next year. He entered 2016’s OTA’s competing for the starting role against then-rookie Elliott and newly acquired free agent Morris, but spent much of the year injured. He was not activated for play until mid-December and appeared in only 3 games with 1 start.
Despite the dismal year, the Cowboys in March signed McFadden to a one-year contract extension, a move showing that they still believed in him and his potential.
Now is his time to prove his worth. To show the ‘Boys that they are right. A third time that hopefully will be the charm.
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