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...
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
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