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 Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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