NAPA, Calif. — One coach called him a workaholic. Another said he has displayed great maturity and professionalism. He shows up early to practice and stays late. In meetings, according to several players, he demonstrates an understanding of the offense they haven’t seen from a rookie in years.
He runs with an aggressive, fancy-free style that one scout described privately to me as “Eric Dickerson on uppers.” During a joint practice with the San Francisco 49ers on Monday, there was a bolt up the middle in which he broke through so fast it caused some of the 49ers players afterward to momentarily murmur about his speed.
The player is Darren McFadden, and if you want an early contender for Rookie of the Year, look no further.
Sure, it’s camp, and sure, McFadden is one cracked fibula away from disaster. This is the NFL after all, which stands for (as Jerry Glanville once famously said) “Not For Long.” There is a small army of rookies who demonstrated great promise in training camp only to later find themselves out of the league.