Surely, Darren McFadden must be hurt. How else do you explain the Raiders' running back averaging a stumbling 3.1 yards a carry after he galloped to 5.3 yards per attempt the previous two years?
So, when he went to the locker room early in the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, fans at O.Co Coliseum held their breath while nodding knowingly.
He was going to the bathroom, people.
Monday, basking in the dim glow of an ugly 26-23 overtime win Sunday, coach Dennis Allen was asked about McFadden.
Does he look like the same player that Allen (then a Broncos defensive coordinator) saw on film in 2011?
"Yeah, he does," Allen said. "He's still an explosive player. We've got to do a better job creating room for him to run. We've incorporated a few more of those gap-scheme plays, and I know you can say this on every play, but we're one block here or there from a big run."
McFadden was held to 53 yards on 19 carries against the Jaguars, the fifth time in six games that he has averaged less than 3 yards a carry. In fact, take away a 64-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh in Week 3 and he is averaging 2.5 yards a carry on his other 102 attempts.
A year ago at this point, McFadden was averaging 5.5 and leading the NFL with 610 yards rushing. It was in the seventh game that he sprained his foot and then missed the rest of the season.
McFadden said he is healthy now, but he is probably sick of answering the same questions every week. He has looked at every carry this season to see if he can spot something he is doing wrong.
"You want to look at every run, so you can know what you did wrong or if you should have stayed with the hole or made an earlier cut," McFadden said. "It's one of those things where you have to go back and re-evaluate yourself."
The biggest problem right now seems to be the offensive line. Zone blocking run scheme, gap, power ... nothing is working.
"We didn't execute well at all up front," Allen said. "We need to establish a new line of scrimmage" on running plays.
Allen was asked about making some changes on the offensive line. He said "the guys out there are the guys we think give us the best chance to win."
Help is not on the way this week, as Allen said it's doubtful that starting right tackle Khalif Barnes returns from a groin injury.
Obviously, Allen's disappointed in the 31st-ranked running game and knows that has to change for his 2-4 team.
"We want to and need to run the ball," he said. "We will continue to work at it until we get better."
Briefly: Besides Barnes, cornerback Shawntae Spencer (foot) is also doubtful to practice, Allen said, but tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring) could be back. ... Mike Goodson has a minor hip injury and that, plus the use of no-huddle (fewer substitutions), was the reason the backup running back didn't have any carries Sunday. But Allen says the Raiders will find Goodson a role and "use him more." ... Linebacker Aaron Curry (knees) will get more work in practice this week, but Allen didn't seem optimistic about Curry returning to the 53-man roster before Sunday's game in Kansas City. ... Cornerback Ron Bartell (shoulder) is eligible to come off the temporary injured-reserve list Saturday and should return to practice next week.
Vic Tafur is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: @VicTafur
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