Rolando McClain is the real deal. The last player the Oakland Raiders got from Alabama was a flop, but this guy is for real. McClain told his agent to get him in to the first training camp no matter what. Only three other first round rookies had inked deals when McClain signed his contract.
McClain comes in as the first string middle linebacker for the Raiders. He is a man of his word. About a month ago, he said that his contract would not be an issue. As he said, it was not an issue. As I said, it is very similar to the 7th overall pick from last year, Darrius Heyward-Bey's. Heyward-Bey got $500,000 more in guaranteed and $2 million less in maximum value.
McClain recently sat down to chat with Greg Papa, the Raider's radio play-by-play announcer. McClain sat down with his defensive playbook as an extension of his right arm. He told Papa of how Nick Saban taught him to see the game in a different way. Of how Saban stretched his mind to places where he didn't know he was capable of going. He told Papa that Saban taught him how to slow the game down in his mind and see it how others cannot.
Saban's coaching at Alabama led the Crimson Tide and Rolando McClain to a National Title early in 2010. It led their Saban coached defense to be ranked second in the entire nation against the run. It led Rolando McClain to the Oakland Raiders as the 8th overall pick of the 2010 NFL draft. Saban's coaching gave the Raider Nation hope for a better run defense in 2010.
Rolando McClain is backing up the knowledge of his prior teacher.
Rolando McClain will wear the coveted green dot helmet for the Raiders. "It's something different, one day (John Marshall) told me, it was like the fourth of fifth practice of OTA's he said, ‘We gonna have to start using microphones' and I was just sitting there. I thought he was just going to signal the play in like usual and all the sudden I hear this loud screechy noise, I was like ‘What is this', it was something different, but also something I like. You don't have to worry about him getting the signal in or calling it or nothing, you're ready."
What's going to be interesting to see is if McClain can garner the kind of respect that the middle linebacker needs to establish to be the leader of the defense. With the veterans on this squad, namely Nnamdi Asomugha and Richard Seymour, it will be semi-entertaining and semi-heart pounding to see what happens with the chemistry on this squad. Will they direct leadership to this first year player, or will they make more of an effort to establish themselves as that person who is the leader?
McClain thinks he can be that leader, "Just like when I was a freshman at Alabama, it takes time, you have to grow on guys. You just can't come in and start demanding stuff. Guys tend to shy away from that. The thing you have to do is, if you're a leader and you come in day after day, they are going to see it and they are going to respect it. They are going to respect you and then they are going to respect you as a leader. It comes with time. I have a great group of veteran guys in front of me so I'm going to let them do their thing and I'm going to do my thing and I'm not going to push it. The thing I'm going to do is come out there every day and be the leader I can be. I know that eventually, whether it's this year or the following year, everybody will know who 's the true leader."
I don't think you could ask for a better answer to the question. I mean, c'mon, this guy is professional and he is all business. And I don't mean sly and cunning business. I mean straight forward and hard working. Rolando McClain is for real. He is the total package, brains and braun.
On opening day, September 12th, 2010, McClain will have the task of leading this defense in shutting down the best running back in football, Chris Johnson, as well as the best running quarterback in football, Vince Young. Johnson recently signed a restructured contract and Young was not suspended for any time by the NFL for his recent incident.
"I watched a little bit of film from last year...if everybody is not doing their job on a particular play then that's when you get the long runs. I think everybody just being accountable for their own job and we'll be just fine."
Let the games begin.
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