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McClain getting the message loud and clear

By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 at 1:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Media aren’t the only ones that find it difficult getting Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain to be more outgoing and communicative. Raiders coaches are doing double time in an effort to get McClain to assert himself as a leader and the linchpin of the defense.
In a rare interview, McClain said Monday that he is open to a heightened role, even if it means stepping out of his comfort zone.
“Oh. I don’t know,” McClain said, when asked if he’s comfortable being a leader. “I don’t, really. My nature is, I’m a quiet shy guy and I keep to myself. The coaches ask me to get away from that, basically. I’m trying to do that and I’m fighting with myself.”
McClain said his teammates are making it easier on him to be more vocal and to do more than lead by example, which is the method McClain prefers.
In McClain, the Raiders see a bright, young, talented player who has yet to realize his potential or play at the level commensurate with the No. 8 pick of the NFL draft.
“He’s done a real good job from a leadership standpoint,” coach Dennis Allen said after an offseason workout. “He’s very instinctive. He’s smart out there. He’s taken command of the huddle. Those things I’ve been pleased with.”
Allen also wants McClain to improve in his pass coverage. The Raiders, of course, can help out by not asking McClain to cover Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson or former San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson on post routes.
So far, McClain has proven adept at blitzing and covering receivers in the flat in his two NFL seasons. Beyond that, the knock on him is that he too often guesses wrong, jumps in the wrong gap and gets out of position on both run and pass plays.
There’s a faction that believes the Raiders used McClain the wrong way the past two seasons. To that, McClain said, he isn’t sure what to make of how he has been used so far.
“I don’t know,” McClain said. “Of course, I was in a 3-4 with coach (Nick) Saban and I did pretty well. But I’m just playing whatever they ask me to play and play that to the best of my ability, do the best I can and help make this defense better.”
McClain was referring to his standout days at Alabama, when he anchored the Tide defense and received the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker.
Allen said the Raiders defense will be more “multiple” this season, meaning they will incorporate the 3-4 and more blitzing into their overall scheme. Those changes figure to bode well for McClain.
When asked to assess his play last season, McClain refused to use injuries as an excuse for his uneven play last season.
“I’m not going to put an injury on anything,” McClain said. “I’m just saying that I didn’t play to the best of my ability and neither did our defense. We all can improve. It starts here with training camp. We came in with the right attitude in terms of we’re looking to improve. So, let’s start with that.”
Backup safety Mike Mitchell said McClain has learned from his off-field transgressions the past year or so and that McClain is primed for a big season.
Before you discount that as a possibility, consider the quantum leaps taken in their third season by former Raider cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and current wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
“He’s just more mature,” Mitchell said. “You got to think, when he first got drafted, he was 21 years old. So, he’s a very young guy. The changes that you see are just a boy becoming a man.
“You won’t see nothing but good things coming from Ro. He’s learned from everything that’s happened from him. He’s learned from being in the league two years. It’s going to be a big year for him. I’m really excited.”
The odds of McClain making a precipitous jump this season seem to skyrocket when you take into account the scheme change. Mitchell agrees.
“I think so,” Mitchell said. “But, again, I’m not Ro. He controls what he does. I’m 100 percent confident in him. This is the best shape he’s ever been in. Coach gave us weights that we had to report at for the first time. He looks really good. He was killing the conditioning test. You saw him flying around today. The kid’s a beast.”
During the 5-minute-plus interview, McClain was engaging, introspective and even funny, at times. Team employees have worked hard in the past to get McClain to speak to the media and, by extension, the fans. To little avail.
It didn’t help that during McClain’s rookie season, then-coach Tom Cable, according to McClain, told McClain that he didn’t have to speak with the media, which is against league rules and places McClain at risk of being fined $25,000 for each violation.
Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon spoke with the Raiders players Sunday about the importance of speaking with the media. It remains to be seen whether that resonated with McClain. Here’s to hoping that McClain comes out of his shell, for he is one of those players who actually has something to say that is worth hearing and reading.
Time will tell. When asked at the end of the interview, whether the media were growing on him, McClain said, “No, I wouldn’t say that.”
The Raiders, of course, are more concerned about McClain growing on the field. Not even McClain has a strong take on whether the fans, his teammates and coaches have seen the best of McClain.
“I don’t know,” McClain said. “I guess we’ll see. Like I said, I don’t know. I’m not big on individual stats. The most important thing is for the defense to be great. That’s why they drafted me, to bring the defense up and make plays. That’s what I’m striving to do.”
Let’s start with that, as he said.

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  • Thec

    TxRaider210 Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 5:07 pm
    Hope DMoore gets his leg issue under control.

    ++++++++

    Yeah, we need to get over this weopon injury hump.

  • The Big Banana

    Gannon’s gonna be a grumpy old man

    ——–

    Too late…

  • J Hill

    Good for Mitchell!

  • fingers

    That’s right.. Tomorrow they wear the pads… Seasons getting close …
    Can’t wait to see Rivers snappin his line…. and Shonasty chasing him….

  • DJ Johnny

    I can hear the NFL Films guy when they do the feature-”Raiders…A New Era of Excellence”:

    “Rolando McClain came in to the 2012 season a quiet, reserved middle linebacker, but after the Raider coaches talked to him and encouraged him he emerged as a vocal, take-charge leader of a resurgent Oakland Raider defense”.

    Rolando is who he is. You can’t “force” him to be something he’s not.

    Can he be a good player? I think so. Why not?

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Mitchell steps in front of pass for Criner, intercepts Palmer. Great read, react.
    4:53pm – 31 Jul 12
    $$$$$$$$$$

    Missile Mike!!!!

  • TxRaider210

    Have a good one fellas I’m out! Need to set me up one of them there tweeter accounts.lol

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    TxRaider210 Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 4:50 pm
    O
    Was it you who posted a jersey review on NFLSHOP about them being crappy quality? The person’s handle was the same as yours.lol
    $$$$$$$$$

    No sir, but I’m not surprised. It’s a GREAT name.

  • RAIDERMAN99

    No injuries ?

    Couple of guys stepping up.

    Good day.

    The clock is ticking ever closer to the Charger beatdown.

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Have a good evening Tx.

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    Question for the Raider Brass:

    If McClain is such a great leader why not have him do a sit down interview with Peter King?

  • TxRaider210

    Thanks O you too

  • http://www.raiders.com Raider O

    Green Party Rules!
    PMPP Is The Shiznet!

    Later Nation.

  • Thec

    LTR Tx, be safe

  • Thec

    Ltr O, be safe

  • J Hill

    Of all the players on defense, why do you think The Reggime has CHOSEN 55 to be the leader?

  • Thec

    RAIDERMAN99 Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 5:17 pm
    No injuries ?

    Couple of guys stepping up.

    Good day.

    The clock is ticking ever closer to the Charger beatdown.

    ++++++++

    yep…disc going down on moday night in the Oco

  • J Hill

    DVD
    55
    ShoNasty
    Branch
    Huff
    Bryant

    YOUNG MONEY!!!!!!

  • J Hill

    Ivey will bounce back, earn the 3rd DT spot.

  • RAIDERMAN99

    Of all the players on defense, why do you think The Reggime has CHOSEN 55 to be the leader?
    ==============================================
    Because he’s the signal caller, plays the most important position and probably has been lacking in that department thus far ?

  • J Hill

    If we go with Seymour Kelly Ivey ShoNasty, I don’t see an Oline on the scedule that could match up.

    Houston and Bryant off the bench????

    OLines would be waving the white flag half way through the 3rd qtr.

  • Intrepid

    Raider Riff Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 4:04 pm
    Brining in Kerry Colins was the first mistake that led to the Gannon era unraveling.////////////////////////////////////////Maybe.That and his head coach (Norv). But he was a bit of a gunslinger and I’ve been dying for one of those ever since. Well, Grads was a gunslinger; just couldn’t sling it very far.

  • Intrepid

    And I’m liking our new gunslinger.

  • J Hill

    You are fighting it 99.

    Obvious is staring you right in the face, but your refusing to acknowledge even a smidget of movement in the right direction from this KID.

  • J Hill

    Does 55′s choice by the Reggime to lead the defense impact your faith in their abilty to lead us to the playoffs?

    I mean, if 55 is the slug you say he is and The Reggime gives this guy the keys to the defense, we must be doomed, right?

  • RAIDERMAN99

    You are fighting it 99.

    Obvious is staring you right in the face, but your refusing to acknowledge even a smidget of movement in the right direction from this KID.
    ============================================
    Au contraire, mon ami.

    I’m not fighting it. I’m wholeheartedly hoping for it and welcome it with open arms.

    Hard to imagine movement in anything but the right direction.

    Couldn’t get much worse.

    Course, some guys hit bottom and then break out a shovel and dig deeper.

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    RAIDERMAN99 Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Of all the players on defense, why do you think The Reggime has CHOSEN 55 to be the leader?
    ==============================================
    Because he’s the signal caller, plays the most important position and probably has been lacking in that department thus far ?

    _______________________________________________________

    First off, Reggie doesn’t get to decide who the leaders are on this team….

    The players will decide.

    Not the Coaches.

    Leaders do not create followers, they create more leaders.

    The only leader I see on this team thus far is Carson Palmer.

    Defensively, the role will be assumed by someone.

    I can guarantee you ALL one thing, it will not be McClain, and it will not be Richard Seymour.

    WRITE THAT DOWN!

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    Love the title of this article:

    Should say McKenzie Getting the Message Loud & CLEAR!

  • PurpleDrank81

    Goodson injured with Hamstring Issue

  • Just Fire Baby

    The only thing that can stop Slo-mania this season is the Alabama judicial system.

    Clear that minor hurdle, and he will be back to cracking skulls in 2012.

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    Speaking of Digging Ditches:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oudNoKfNUfs

  • http://www.GodIsImaginary.com RaiderDuck

    Ivey placed on NFI list.

  • RAIDERMAN99

    Does 55’s choice by the Reggime to lead the defense impact your faith in their abilty to lead us to the playoffs?

    I mean, if 55 is the slug you say he is and The Reggime gives this guy the keys to the defense, we must be doomed, right?
    ==================================================
    To start with, Ronaldo has only been asked to be more vocal and assume a leadership role. He has not been annointed THE leader, although it would be nice if he could be that guy. He has doubts about ‘leading’ himself.

    To answer the second part of your post – yes, we are doomed if Ronaldo continues to play like McSluggo.

  • Mr Green

    Thec Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 5:02 pm
    WR Denarious Moore, who suffered a hamstring injury during minicamp, appears to be battling a leg issue during practice.
    llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

    oh thats just fcking great. I hope these coaches don’t hamstring these guys right to the fcking bench. No D-Mo = No Suppa Bo. The great Denarius is a must have every down guy if CP3 can be expected to lead this team to Nawleens. Thats messed up.

    Can we get a fcking update please ??????????? !!!

  • RAIDERMAN99

    The only thing that can stop Slo-mania this season is the Alabama judicial system.

    Clear that minor hurdle, and he will be back to cracking skulls in 2012.
    ================================================
    Slo-mania ? LOL. I like it.

    McLainsanity ?

    Have to be prepared for some alternative RoBeast monikers if he pulls his head out and delivers.

  • Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust

    Intrepid Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 5:28 pm
    Raider Riff Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 4:04 pm
    Brining in Kerry Colins was the first mistake that led to the Gannon era unraveling.////////////////////////////////////////Maybe.That and his head coach (Norv). But he was a bit of a gunslinger and I’ve been dying for one of those ever since. Well, Grads was a gunslinger; just couldn’t sling it very far.

    —————————————————

    JaMarcus was a slinger. He can throw the ball 85 yards from his knees. Strongest arm to ever play the game. To bad his agent extorted all that moolah outta Al.

  • Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust

    Is Boss still with the Raiders? I’m new here. And is A-Rod still with the Yankees?

  • Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust

    All eyes will be on the Raiders in this post Al Davis era. It is up to Reggie, Amy, Mark and Allen as well as the entire organization to keep the legend alive.

  • Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust

    Who’s the o-line coach for the Raiders this year. Somebody said Cable was comin back to the o-line.

  • http://www.GodIsImaginary.com RaiderDuck

    Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust Says:
    July 31st, 2012 at 6:00 pm
    Who’s the o-line coach for the Raiders this year. Somebody said Cable was comin back to the o-line.

    ==============================================

    I’m going to assume you’re sincere.

    Boss is in KC.
    Frank Pollack is the OL coach.
    I think A-Rod is in NY, but who cares?

  • RaiderLen

    Testing

  • Raiderrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Crust

    thanks 590

  • RaiderLen

    Crust…. is full of it.

  • realtruraider

    D Moe injured?

    Raiders RapidReports‏@CBSSportsNFLOAK

    WR Denarious Moore, who suffered a hamstring injury during minicamp, appears to be battling a leg issue during practice.

    Retweeted by Vic Tafur
    _____________________________________________________

    Wonder why the local beatwriters didn’t notice this? Im calling BS

  • fingers

    Should be an update coming up pretty quick…

  • DJ Johnny

    Vic Tafur is full of crap.

  • fingers

    Twitter ..Peter King …. Carson Palmer just told me ” I’ve never been this excited for a team before..
    retweeted by Oakland Raiders

  • fingers

    I was just over at twitter… Sounds like camps going good ..

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    Johhny, what’s up my friend?

    You ready for the season?

  • backstageatapuppetshow

    Peter King is a paid voice….as most all voice’s these days are!