INDIANAPOLIS — The primary storyline surrounding the Oakland Raiders heading into Sunday’s regular-season opener centers around third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Though head coach Dennis Allen is declining to name a starter before game time, several news outlets have reported the players have been told in private that Pryor will play ahead of presumed starter Matt Flynn.
The former Ohio State star will bring an athletic dimension to the Raiders’ offense and likely give the Colts a brief look at the type of read-option schemes the defense will face at least four more times this fall.
While Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano respects both quarterbacks and what they can bring to the Oakland offense, he made it clear Wednesday the Colts won’t forget about Raiders running back Darren McFadden.
“We have our work cut out for us with Pryor, but stopping McFadden is our major concern with the run game,” Pagano said. “As we all know, he’s a big, fast, physical guy that can run between the tackles, and he can cut it back or he can bounce outside. If you give him a crease, he’s got the speed to obviously take it the distance. He’s a home-run hitter. So we got to make sure we set the edge in the defense and get as many hats on Darren as possible.”
It’s been a star-crossed NFL career for McFadden, who was taken with the fourth overall draft pick in 2008 out of the University of Arkansas.
He rushed for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. But injuries have made it difficult for McFadden to replicate that success as a pro.
He’s missed 23 games in his first five NFL seasons, and he’s yet to appear in all 16 games in any single year. His best campaign came in 2010 when he posted career-bests in starts (13), rushing yards (1,157) and rushing touchdowns (7).