In two seasons since being selected with the eighth overall draft pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, Oakland Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain is primarily known for his 180-day sentence to an Alabama jail (which he is appealing) for a misdemeanor assault conviction after he fired a gun past another man's head last December.
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Discipline from the league office may sideline McClain at some point this season, but the Raiders would like to start seeing more on-field noise from the middle linebacker. That includes taking on a leadership role, something McClain admits to struggle with, according to Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group.
"Oh. I don't know," McClain answered when he was asked about his comfort in being a leader. "I don't, really. My nature is, I'm a quiet, shy guy and I keep to myself. The coaches ask me to get away from that, basically. I'm trying to do that and I'm fighting with myself."
McClain will be playing in a system that mixes in elements of the 3-4 defense he excelled in at Alabama, which might help coax him out of his shell.
The system could take advantage of his strengths (blitzing, playing downhill), mask his weaknesses (covering tight ends and running backs) and allow him to make big plays. The more big plays and less mistakes that McClain makes, the more comfortable he could be on the field. In turn, that could allow him to step up and be the leader team wants and needs him to be.