He leads the NFL with 393 rushing yards in three games, and he's also got a team-high 11 receptions. The Raiders revolve around McFadden, who also has a league-best 19 runs of at least 20 yards in just 16 games since the start of the 2010 season. Defenses can basically set their watch by one of McFadden's big plays.
"I can't really compare him [to anyone else]," Patriots' defensive end Andre Carter said. "Overall, he's just an elusive player. I respect him. I'm sure everybody else in the league respects him. He's in a world of his own."
McFadden's first two seasons in the NFL were largely unimpressive, especially considering he was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft after a very decorated collegiate career at Arkansas. Blame that on injuries, the Raiders' misuse of him or his own inability to prove himself on the depth chart.
Either way, he has emerged as one of the league's best backs, and he exploded for 1,157 rushing yards, 507 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010.
McFadden is a brute of a runner, which makes him difficult to tackle. He's listed as 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, and he kind of looks like a linebacker when he breaks out in full stride.
"McFadden is a great guy with the ball in hands," linebacker Jerod Mayo said. "Tackling him will be an issue. We’ve been practicing that as well. Hopefully we can do good this week."
The Patriots practiced in full pads Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 8, which likely gave them a better opportunity to hone their tackling skills. It's going to be a conscious effort to surround the ball in Oakland to make sure McFadden doesn't shake free and fly down the sideline. Stopping him should undoubtedly be the Patriots' greatest challenge in beating the Raiders.
"He's a big guy, so everyone has to make sure they get their hat on him," linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. "You've got to be a swarming defense, especially when he's in there just to make sure he doesn't get any of those yards after contact. You've just got to make sure that anytime you know that he or anybody is on the field, especially with the Raiders who are a physical team. You've got to have a mentality that we've got to get these guys on the ground. The first guy, get there. The second guy, get there. Third guy, fourth guy, everyone has got to be running to the ball."
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