Since joining the Raiders as their top pick in the 2010 draft, Rolando McClain has been evasive to say the least. At first he used the excuse that he wouldn't talk to the media until the Raiders sold out a game. But eventually it just became apparent he had an aversion to speaking with the media, and therefore speaking to the fans. That aversion was apparent during training camp as he didn't address the media as a whole throughout camp.
His thing last season became that he would only speak on Mondays. That didn't hold up during training camp but I guess with the first game of the season coming up, he decided it was time to step up to the mic and answer a few questions.
Naturally the assault case in Alabama for which he was convicted on four counts and is currently appealing, was the subject on everyone's mind. He was asked about the talk of the possibility of his being suspended this season before his trial by jury is to occur.
"No, I don't think I've ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," said McClain. "I haven't heard it. I guess that's all speculation.
"It's football. I get paid to play football."
With the elephant in the room addressed, talk could move to other subjects that have to do with football. Despite his reluctant nature, he claims he has always been a leader of this team.
"I wouldn't say learning [to be a leader]. I was a pretty good leader at Alabama in college. It's different here. It's just different. You're not dealing with guys your own age. You're dealing with grown men. Being a leader is just not about yelling but understanding guys that you're working with. Different people respond to different things in different ways. It's figuring out your teammates and how they respond to things to get them to work. It's still a process."
Of course, he wasn't interested in talking about the failing of the defense last season and preferred to be optimistic about this season.
"I'm not talking about the past. This is a new year. The past is the past for a reason. It's a new year, and we got a chance to go out and be as good as we want to be.
"I think the Raiders have been so accustomed to playing straight 'man' with everybody knowing what we're going to be in. Now it's just being a little diverse, changing things up will benefit us some. At the same time offenses, they still game plan. Eventually they'll see our pressures and they'll pick up on them. It's just about executing the defense, whatever is called. Is it pressure or straight zone. You just have to execute it and play the rules and what happens, happens.
"I feel good about the defense. It's not just my game or anybody's game in particular. I think it suits everybody on the defense from linebacker to D-line to secondary. We're all able to make plays on the defense. We just have to make them when your number is called."
McClain has played quite well in camp and has had some good moments in preseason. He appears to be doing just what he said and focusing on football. He has a lot of natural talent and abilities but tends to struggle in the discipline department-- both on the field and off. If he has indeed learned from his mistakes and his focus remains on football, it will translate to the field.
It is exactly a week before we see whether McClain's work has paid off. As far a suspension is concerned, that remains to be seen. Roger Goodell could lay down a suspension based on his conviction by judge, ahead of the appeal, or wait until after his trial by jury has concluded. Hard to predict how he will respond or when.