"Depressed" McFadden Hopes to Return Sometime

FAYETTEVILLE — Standing in an empty Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Tuesday evening, a solemn Darren McFadden addressed the media for the first time since he injured his big toe in a fight in the early morning of July 29.

McFadden said he has apologized to his Arkansas teammates for making a bad decision, one that the star running back still regrets three weeks after the altercation outside a Little Rock nightclub.

"If I had it all over, I wouldn't do it again," McFadden told a large group of reporters during a nearly 10-minute interview.

McFadden didn't sound too optimistic, either, about his chances of being ready to play in the season opener against the sixth-ranked University of Southern California on Sept. 2.

A day after having a pin removed from the big toe on his left foot, the sophomore said the pain is worse than he expected and it hasn't diminished any. It hurts when he walks, even when he bends his big toe.

"I'm always going to say that I can (play), but realistically I don't know," McFadden said.

Before the pin was removed, McFadden had tried to stay positive about the possibility of him playing against USC on national TV. But he admits it has only been a few days since the severity of his toe injury started to "sink in."

McFadden suffered an open dislocation of the distal IP joint of his big left toe when he was involved in a fight just after 4 a.m. July 29 at Palace the Club in Little Rock.

The sophomore had surgery a few hours later to repair the capsule surrounding the joint. A pin was inserted in the joint to stabilize it.

"It's been real hard standing over on the sidelines watching my team," McFadden said. "It's just been hard on me, knowing that I can't be out there for them right now to have their backs. I feel like I let them down a little bit."

McFadden is officially listed as doubtful for the season opener, but it seems more likely that the All-Southeastern Conference sophomore will be out for an extended period of time.

McFadden, who has kept his weight at 212 pounds, got in the pool for the first time Tuesday to work on his walking motion. It will be even longer before he's able to run and cut like he did last season as the SEC freshman of the year.

"That's the thing, I want to come back real bad, but I know I'm not going to rush myself back out there (so) I get hurt again and it (is) something long-term instead of short-term," McFadden said.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt admits that McFadden has been depressed since realizing when the pin was taken out Monday morning that his injury is worse than he originally thought.

"He's got to stay upbeat and he's got to go to work," Nutt said. "He put himself in this situation, so he's got to work to get out of it."

Nutt said he has tried to get McFadden to stay positive by telling him that the injury could have been much worse.

"The decision that you did at 4:30 in the morning could have been career-ending, so you're very fortunate," Nutt said. "Now, take advantage of it, go to work and everyday is a gift."

McFadden said he didn't know exactly how he injured his toe in the fight because "it all happened so fast."

He said he was at Palace the Club because he grew up around that area of Little Rock, and he defended his decision to be at the nightclub at 4 a.m. July 29.

"I'm not a kid anymore so I feel like I have all rights to be out at 4 o'clock in the morning if I feel like it," McFadden said.

But he admits he has tried to apologize as much as he can to his teammates for the poor decision he made that morning.

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