Bruce Gradkowski Makes Darrius Heyward-Bey and Darren McFadden Shine

In recent years, the Oakland Raiders have often been criticized for choices they have made during the NFL Draft. The concept of a first-round bust has been almost synonymous with the Raiders. Robert Gallery, Michael Huff, Darren McFadden, JaMarcus Russell, and Darrius Hey-Ward Bey have all had their names and the word bust used in the same sentence.

On Sunday, two of those players, Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey, made big steps away from the title of bust and toward success, and both did it with the help of Bruce Gradkowski.

After an injury-riddled first few seasons in the NFL, many questioned whether McFadden would ever be able to handle the load of a starting running back. When Michael Bush broke his thumb in the preseason, McFadden was handed an opportunity to show that he could handle being a premier back.

Darren McFadden used his opportunity to start against the Tennessee Titans to make a strong argument in his favor. He rushed 18 times for 95 yards but no touchdowns in one of his best games to date. It was made even more impressive by the fact that every other aspect of the Raiders' offense failed.

On Sunday, McFadden began somewhat slowly, putting up 38 yards in the first half. This is not getting shut down, but it's also not a big half.The second half, however, was a completely different story. McFadden finished the game with 30 carries and 145 yards, being the workhorse that the Raiders needed.


The reason that Darren McFadden did not put up more yards in the first half had nothing to do with the way he was running. The problem was that he just didn't have the opportunities he needed. In the first half, the Raiders were not able to put together long drives and keep the offense on the field.

When Bruce Gradkowski came in for the second half, that all changed. The Raiders moved the sticks with enough consistency that McFadden was able to really get go...

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