D-Mac: Unpinned and Unplugged

Star University of Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden talks about the night he suffered his toe injury, his progress and when he might get back on the field to help out the Razorbacks this season.

It was clear to see on Tuesday afternoon that the extent of his injury has fully hit University of Arkansas star tailback Darren McFadden.

That was clearly evident as he met with the media a day after the pin in his toe was taken out - one that had been inserted after he suffered a toe injury in a late-night scuffle a week before preseason practice began.

McFadden, who began his rehab with some work in the pool on Tuesday, now realizes that any thought of playing in the season opener against visiting USC on Sept. 2 is the longest of long shots.

"I was telling myself that when I got the pin out of my foot I am going to be ready to go," McFadden said. "But then when I got the pin out, it was much worse than what I thought it was. That is really when it started sinking in."

Asked to gauge the pain level from 1 to 10, McFadden went on the high end.

"I would say about a seven or eight," McFadden said. "It hurts bad."

While some have speculated that he might be back by either Vanderbilt or the Alabama game, McFadden was hedging his bets.

"I don't know when, but I know that I am going to be back at some point this year," McFadden said. "I just don't know when. I am not going to rush it back, When I come back I am going to be 100 percent."

Razorback head coach Houston Nutt said he knows that McFadden, who still weighs 212 pounds, is feeling bad both physically and mentally.

"He had been feeling good in that boot, taped up nice with a nice cushion with no pressure on the toe and then you take it off and you realize that the pin is out, but that the stabilization is gone and it is much sorer than I thought," Nutt said. "That is a natural reaction, but he has just got to keep rehabbing."

Nutt had McFadden wait a day before talking to the media about his situation.

"He was really down yesterday- very, very down," Nutt said. "That is the competitor inside of him, but hopefully he is going to learn a valuable lesson."

Nutt is walking a fine line of needing to get the player back, but also not coddling him.

"You can see he is really depressed and we are going to keep his spirits going and he has got to stay up beat and got to go to work," Nutt said. "But he put himself in this situation and he has got to work to get out of it. I have told him how lucky he is that it was not worse and how it could have been career-ending with the decision you made at 4:30 in the morning. You are very fortunate, now take advantage of it and go to work and every day is a gift."

McFadden said he definitely did learn his lesson, but that he had his reasons for being out so late that night.

"I am from that area and that is where I grew up - around that area," McFadden said. "As far as me being out at 4 a.m., I am not a kid anymore so I feel like I have all the rights to be out at 4 o'clock in the morning if I feel like it. But if I had it all over I wouldn't do it again."

He admits he knew something was wrong right away, just not how wrong.

"When I looked at it, I know that it was pretty bad, but I didn't know how bad it really was until doctors came in and talked to me," McFadden said. "I don't really know how it happened because everything happen so fast."

He said it has been real tough just watching.

"It's been real hard on me knowing that I can't be out there for them and have their backs," McFadden said. "I feel like I have let them down a little bit."

He has met with many of the players and apologized.

"There wasn't much I really could say, but just let them know that I apologize for letting them down," McFadden said. "That was about all I really could do. It was when I would see players around and in the locker room and stuff I just let them know that I feel bad and apologize."

He has gotten good vibes back from them.

"They have been real supportive," McFadden said. "They have been nothing but supportive."

McFadden, who had been able to ride the stationary bike and the elliptical for an hour or so daily while he was in the protective boot, got into the Razorbacks' rehab pool on Tuesday.

"It is just trying to get in there and get some walking motion going," McFadden said.

He now realizes is not going to be a easy chore.

"I have been trying to get a little bit of range of motion and bend it a little bit," McFadden said. "It is real painful doing that."

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