Rathman took a break from the team’s recent rookie mini-camp to discuss McFadden’s arrival in Oakland:
Question: What are your early impressions of Darren McFadden?
Rathman: He’s a football player, passionate about the game, and that’s to our advantage. You know what you’re getting there. Talent-wise, certainly everybody knows what he can do. Big production as a runner, very talented as far as playing the quarterback position. Has played outside the formation. Has had some success playing outside, so here’s a multi-talented athlete that’s going to have a huge impact.
Question: What do you make of his style?
Rathman: He’s a slasher. He’s perfect for this system. You talk about running to a spot, putting a foot down and accelerating, that’s what he is. Very similar to Justin Fargas, the style. A little more upright, as a runner, kind of an Eric Dickerson style, shoulders up, great slasher, can accelerate, separate from a defender. It’s going to be great this year. It really is.
Question: Are the zone blocking scheme tailored for what he does?
Rathman: I don’t think it fits his run style because he’s not a big-time elusive guy, who’s going to give you a lot of wiggle in space. He can make you miss now, you can add that to his strength. But his style is to put his foot down and go, and he can go.
Question: Is the biggest thing for him to get into the playbook?
Rathman: I don’t think there’s any question about that. It all goes back to the No. 1 thing — you’ve got to be a good fundamental football player, and that’s what we’re working on right now. Obviously, coming out of college his biggest negative was probably his ball security, so we’ve jumped on that early. He understands where we’re coming from. He’s using better technique, better decision on where he’s putting the ball at certain times, so he understands what he needs to do. Now, we don’t have any pads on, so we don’t know, but he’s being right, technique-wise, and that’s what we’re looking for right now.
Question: Was the common thread in fumbles the way he was holding the ball?
Rathman: It’s a little bit of that. Some of them came at the quarterback position. I think he had about four of those. A couple were on kickoff return where you get the big impacts and guys coming downfield. I don’t think it’s bad as what his numbers portrayed him as, but technique wise, he’s better right now. He’s better with his technique as far as holding the ball.
Question: What did you tell him about the fumbles?
Rathman: I told him he’s got to lock his elbow down. A lot of times his elbow wasn’t locked to the side, and obviously if you don’t have that point, which is the most critical point in my opinion, as far as the four points of pressure, you’re going to have some issues.
Question: Can his upright running style be a problem?
Rathman: I don’t think so. It’s all the technique that you’re using when you have that ball in your possession. I would say this, he’s got some real long arms so I think you probably have to look at that issue. Is that an issue, that his arms are so long? I think it’s 34-plus, 34 1/4, something like that as far as the length of his arms. That’s pretty long, but I don’t see any problem. He hasn’t had any problems. I think the biggest problem is he didn’t have proper ball leverage a lot of times. He’d always carry it in his left hand. You’re going to eliminate a lot of balls on the ground by just properly carrying the football, when it needs to be in my right hand, when it needs to be in my left hand. He’ll be better from that aspect.