Did a strong opinion immediately come to your mind upon reading his name? Did you shake your head? Did you think of his intimidating presence on the field? Did you think of his still untapped potential?
Whatever your initial reaction, it is hard to doubt that Rolando is a lightning road for conversation; both positive and negative. Before the Cowboys traded for the then retired McClain prior to the 2014 season his reputation throughout the league was extremely damaged.
He had a major incident with the Oakland Raiders who selected him 4th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, where his mental makeup became heavily questioned. Which quickly found him suspended by his former team. On April 5th, 2013 the Raiders officially waived McClain after a disappointing tenure in Oakland. He was quickly signed by the defending Super Bowl Champions the Baltimore Ravens on April 10th, hoping he could resurrect his career and hope to fill the shoes of the retiring Ray Lewis.
That surely did not come to pass.
McClain was arrested for his third time in hometown in less than two years. He had only been apart of the Ravens for a little over a week and his stay would not last much longer. He would retire a few weeks later in mid-May, only to make his return and retire for a second time in April 2014.
McClain would find another chance after Sean Lee tore his ACL during organized team activities (OTAs) the following month, a heartbreaking event for the team and Cowboys fans everywhere. The Cowboys had a huge void to fill at Mike Linebacker (Middle Linebacker); thus leading to the trade for the troubled, twice retired Rolando McClain.
The trade worked out in the Cowboys favor. While studying film last year, it was easy to see the player McClain could be when he put his mind to it.
The 6'4, 250 plus Linebacker has the build of a player that could play either Defensive End position. When playing down and filling holes in the run game he showed to be what I call a “Striker” who does not just get the Running Back to the ground, but delivers a solid strike that will not be forgotten. He also had a knack for making impact plays such as his Interception against Seattle to seal the game in the 4th quarter.
While he has his struggles tackling in the open field, can get out of position, and is not the best in coverage, his physical nature against the run made a huge difference, which was seen when he was not in the lineup last season.
However, the critique on his mental state did not go away last season. As many questioned his willingness to practice, believing he may not be the “Right Kind Of Guy” that Coach Garrett often mentions. McClain addressed the situation almost a month ago, defending the missed practices.
Despite the questions, the Cowboys re-signed McClain this spring to a one-year deal, but the questions of his health remain with him having knee arthroscopy (scope) performed in early May by reports from Coach Garrett. After stating McClain had the surgery early in the Press Conference in his immediate answer he stated, “We believe in practice, we believe in the offseason program.” in a response regarding Dez Bryant and his holdout.
Very interesting and may give some insight to Coach Garrett's feelings surrounding the situation with McClain. Which has become even more frustrating as typical belief is that a player can return to mild activity after six weeks following the procedure. McClain missed all of OTAs and has been on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list since the beginning of Training Camp.
While the exact date of the surgery is not known, it has been well past the six weeks and there is still no timetable for his return to the practice field. While not everyone has the same recovery speed, there is still reason for concern. The offseason drama with Rolando did not stop there; he was suspended 4 games for violating the NFL Substance Abuse Policy in early July. Which is significant to his injury concerns as per Article 3.2.1 of the policy, a suspended player cannot partake in any practices with the team.
If Rolando does not return to the practice field during the Preseason, he will not be eligible to do so until the start of the 5th week of the Regular Season. Which could easily lead to him missing several other games from not being in game shape. And so this is the Curious Case Of Rolando McClain the Dallas Cowboys are faced with.
Talkin Cowboys co-host, 6 time Pro Bowler, and 3 time Super Bowl Champion Nate Newton has questioned whether McClain has the desire to be on the practice field recently, while Cowboys Break co-host and former Super Bowl winning Scout Bryan Broaddus has reiterated that there is no timetable for McClain and there is not much else to say on the player at the moment.
Hopefully, we will have answers on Rolando McClain soon. If everything works out well he will become a solid contributor for the defense this season. The likelihood of that happening is the same as his practice status the rest of camp…