OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -For an offensive coach like Lane Kiffin, adding a player with the talents of Darren McFadden to the Oakland Raiders must have him salivating.
A running back with the speed to turn simple runs into game-breaking plays. A receiver who can line up wide and race past a defender or just as easily take a dump-off and turn it into a big gain. A talented kick returner who can change the momentum of a game in an instant.
McFadden even played a little quarterback in college, running out of the shotgun and completing passes.
However tempting it may be to use McFadden in all of those roles, Kiffin is wary of overdoing it after coaching a player with similar talents when he was an offensive assistant at Southern California and had Reggie Bush.
``You just have to be careful because all of a sudden he's doing a bunch of things, but he's doing nothing really good,'' Kiffin said. ``That's the key. It's not the more you can do and just be decent at it. It's the more you can do really well. We always have to monitor that with him and I think we kind of screwed that up with Reggie when he first got there. I think that was something to learn from.''
Despite all the Heisman hype and talent Bush brought into the NFL two years ago, he has failed to become a consistent game-altering player. That's in part because he has struggled at the one facet most important for a tailback - running the ball, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
That's why McFadden looks to emulate another young running back, who transformed the Minnesota Vikings' offense as a rookie last year and has them positioned as one of the up-and-coming teams in the NFL.
``I'm hoping I can come here and make a big difference like Adrian Peterson did going in as a rookie,'' McFadden said. ``He did a lot of great things in Minnesota and that's something I want to do here in Oakland.''
Peterson led the NFC with 1,341 yards in just 14 games, flashing the big-play ability that has been lacking in recent years in Oakland.
Despite finishing fourth in the NFL in rushing a year ago, the Raiders were one of six teams that failed to have a touchdown run of at least 20 yards. That forced them to go through methodical drives, where one mistake - a penalty or a sack - could set them back and cost them an opportunity to score.
Peterson was a threat to score from anywhere on the field, with six touchdown runs from outside the 20 and three from his own territory. That's the kind of skill McFadden showed off at Arkansas and the Raiders haven't had since Bo Jackson two decades ago. McFadden had nine touchdown runs of more than 50 yards in his three years in college. The Raiders have had just two such runs in the past seven years.
As important as McFadden is to the Raiders' hopes of reversing five straight years of double-digit losses, he has some help in 1,000-yard back Justin Fargas.
That's not the case at quarterback. JaMarcus Russell started just one game as a rookie following a long contract holdout as the No. 1 overall pick. With no proven backup behind him, Oakland's success will depend heavily on Russell's development.
It might seem like it would take the traits of a superhero to turn the Raiders into a winner. The team has lost 61 games over the past five years, the most in the NFL and the worst stretch since Al Davis came to Oakland in 1963 to coach and eventually own the Raiders.
``You can never be Superman when you have other teammates,'' Russell said. ``So just go out there and do the basics and do what you do each and every day.''
While Kiffin is excited about the big-play ability McFadden brings, he's spent the offseason drilling Russell on the more mundane aspects of the game: changing plays at the line of scrimmage, checking down to a secondary receiver, executing a perfect play fake.
``We're not going to coach those special throws that he makes where he's running over there and he throws back and makes those great throws,'' Kiffin said. ``That's who he is and very few people can do that. But those happen one time a game, maybe two times. We've got to get him to do everything right, the little things, the little completions and the timing of everything.''
Davis did his best to surround his two young playmakers with as much talent as he could this offseason, opening his wallet up in an offseason spending spree that caught the attention of other NFL teams. While Oakland probably overpaid for some players, like the $16 million guaranteed to receiver Javon Walker, the talent on the roster has been upgraded.
There are still questions about the pass-blocking of both the tackles and the play of the receivers, but the defense should be much improved over the unit that was unable to hold onto fourth-quarter leads, stop the run or create game-changing plays a year ago.
Davis gave nearly $60 million in guaranteed money to safety Gibril Wilson, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and cornerback DeAngelo Hall in hopes of bringing a winner back to Oakland.
``I just think that he has just assembled a great team,'' said Wilson, who left the Super Bowl champion Giants to sign with Oakland. ``Now we have to hold each other accountable. I think in the past guys have not held each other accountable. I think that bringing winners around shows that he's committed, he's committed to having a winning team. He's tired of losing, the city's tired of losing. We have to get back on that winning track.''

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