Ravens hold out hope for Jameel McClain’s return in 2013
The 28-year-old McClain already started training camp on the Ravens’ Active/ PUP list while he recovers from spinal cord contusion suffered last year. He has not participated in a game (even preseason contests) since the Ravens’ Dec 16 loss to the Washington Redskins last season. And once the Ravens officially place McClain on the reserve PUP list by the Aug. 31 deadline, he is guaranteed to miss the first six games of the season. But Harbaugh expects McClain to be cleared for contact at some point this season, although the Ravens do not have a definitive timetable for his return.
“He’s in every meeting, he’s training the young guys, he’s staying in phenomenal shape. If you see him, he’s a fitness warrior,” Harbaugh said after Tuesday’s practice. “All he’s going to have to do is get back in football shape, which will take probably a week or two, when he does come back.”
Harbaugh explained that McClain has been undergoing “periodic” MRI tests to determine his up-to-date injury status. But a test result has yet to comeback clean since McClain is still dealing with some bruising in that area.
“We’ll just keep taking the MRIs and when the MRI is clear, we’ll go. And the MRI will be clear. There’s no question that at some point in time, it will be clear. It’s just impossible, they say, to tell us the time frame,” Harbaugh said. “It could have been clear three months ago. We all hoped for that. It could be three weeks from now. If we go PUP – which I think we’ll do at this point, we’ll see – we’ll probably get another MRI before we make that decision.”
However, the Ravens have already taken suitable steps to address McClain’s absence across their linebackers unit, at least for the first half of the season, by signing free agent Daryl Smith to add depth to the unit. McClain also agreed to a $1.5 million pay cut to his otherwise $3 million salary in 2013.
The former undrafted free agent McClain has started 44 career games (including 13 contests last season) since he joined the Ravens in 2008. In McCalin’s absence, Josh Bynes has emerged as the starter at weak-side linebacker, with veteran Daryl Smith and rookie Arthur Brown expected to compete for playing time at the middle spot.