Oakland Raiders: Darren McFadden Trains With Legendary Olympic Sprinter
Stuart Kovacs – Jun 21, 2012
Oakland Raiders’ running back Darren McFadden is doing everything in his power to avoid injuries while still being one of the most explosive players in the NFL.
He has even gone as far as training with four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson during his offseasons.
Johnson, who owns four of the six fastest 400 meter dash times of all time, now runs his own training center in McKinney, Texas called Michael Johnson Performance.
This is where the Raiders’ star has gone to train during his offseasons ever since he came out of Arkansas and entered the NFL.
Johnson was interviewed by Greg Papa on San Francisco Chronicle Live where he talked about training with McFadden, preventing his injuries, and his evolution as a more balanced running back.
Johnson is impressed with both McFadden’s talent and his dedication to training in the offseason. He has been working with him the past week after the Raiders’ OTA’s ended.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete. He’s come back to us every year since [his time at Arkansas] for his offseason training. He actually just showed up this week after the OTA’s. I know he’s supposed to be coming in and start his training with us this offseason.”
The biggest obstacle preventing McFadden from taking the next step as a player and becoming one of the league’s best is his durability.
At times, he has displayed flashes of being capable of dominating the league. However those flashes are much too brief when they are derailed by injuries. Johnson understands this very issue that the entire Raider Nation sees every season.
“As you know Greg [Papa], the biggest thing with Darren is just trying to keep him healthy. When he’s healthy he’s one of the best backs in the league. Lately he’s been able to keep that health so I expect big things from him.”
Johnson isn’t sure why McFadden sustains these injuries at the rate he does. What he is trying to do is take the information that McFadden gets from the team and use that to improve the durability of the fourth-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
“I’m not really sure why that might be. That’s a scenario for the team doctors to really to look at so we take the information that he gives to us and we try to sure up those areas from what they find. One of the things he has to do is get good offseason training and get a good base under him so that when he goes into the OTA workouts and of course when training camp starts he is a much more durable athlete.”
Aside from the injuries, McFadden appears to be the prototypical running back. When he came into the league, he had his doubters mostly regarding his power and his running style.
Many thought he was too stiff and upright when carrying the football. However, while with Johnson, he has worked on lowering his pad level and becoming a total running back, not just a runner.
“I think he’s learned that the upright style wasn’t going to be as beneficial for him as a back so he’s changed some of those things. Our job is to help enhance those sorts of things that he’s recognized from a skills standpoint that he needs to do and for us to add the athleticism. What we’ve tried to do is make him quicker and more powerful and durable as well in the offseason.”
Working with an all-time great Olympic champion like Michael Johnson is definitely a step in the right direction for McFadden. All he has to do is prove to the league that he can stay healthy for a 16-game period and the results will come.
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