McClain on limited role: 'I feel good about it'


McClain on limited role: 'I feel good about it'

ALAMEDA -- Having played in a season-low 17 snaps against Atlanta last week, Raiders middle linebacker Rolando McClain played the part of good soldier Thursday and insisted he was fine with the development.Even as it might be seen as a demotion, of sorts."I just didnt play in nickel (defense)," McClain told four reporters at his locker. "They played a lot more nickel. I feel good about it."It was 17 plays and I had, I dont know, a ratio of every one-and-a-half plays I made some type of impact-type play. I think thats pretty danged good. It is what it is. They wanted Miles (Burris) to go in. Thats perfectly fine with me. The situation is what it is."Still, it was obvious McClain was not all that thrilled with the development. He averaged 67.8 snaps in the Raiders' first four games and he no longer wears the mic in his helmet that allows one player to communicate with the sideline. That "honor" now goes to Philip Wheeler.RELATED: McClain thrives in limited role
So was it a tough adjustment to not play as much?"I dont know," McClain said. "It makes my job easy, just focus on base (defense) whenever that is and go from there. You understand the situation, you understand the transition whatever that may be. Youre not naive to the fact of whats going on. But at the same time youre still a team player. If coach thinks thats the best thing for the defense then by all means, do it. I can focus on the base downs and thats what I put my energy toward."In fact, coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, as well as Wheeler, insisted McClain adjusted well. Both mentally and physically. Besides, McClain said he knew the change was coming as it was installed in the bye week."He stepped up and he came and played when he was called to play and he made a couple of great plays in base (4-3 defense)," Wheeler said. "I think he played well and I think hes stepping it up."Many have suggested that McClain had better energy, having played fewer snaps."You cant really tell," McClain said. "You make the plays that are there to make. Every ball doesnt come into your area. Every run doesnt come your way. Youre not able to make every tackle. I dont know how you can answer that question."McClain, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2010 draft as the Butkus Award winner out of Alabama, is making a a base salary of 970,000 this season, though it is scheduled to go up to 4.005 million in 2013, 5.805 million in 2014 and down to 2.665 million in 2015.He has yet to force or recover a fumble in his NFL career.And as such, he has become a target of CSN California Raiders analyst and former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski, who has called McClain a "puppy hunter" before saying this week he did not deserve to be called by his first name.RELATED: Romo goes after 'Ro' on CSN California
Asked if he knew of Romanowski, McClain said he did not, and said he had not heard of the four-time Super Bowl winner's, ahem, critiques."I dont keep up with what people say outside here," McClain said. "Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Im sure if I knew him, I could say things about him. I dont. I dont righteously care."Care about this, then: with the run-first Jacksonville Jaguars coming to Oakland this weekend, the Raiders figure to employ more base defense, meaning more snaps for McClain.

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders defense gave up 344 yards Sunday while beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sum’s a season low, still way too many for Malcolm Smith. The Raiders weakside linebacker has higher standards, even after one of two solid defensive efforts in seven games.

“That’s still a lot of yards,” Smith said. “We’re not where we want to be.”

Just because Sunday was better doesn’t mean it’s good enough. The Raiders defense ranks last in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring defense at 25.6 points per game.

There’s a main reason why the Raiders aren’t dead last in both categories. Takeaways.

The Raiders have plundered the opposition this season 13 times in seven games. Special teams got one Sunday on a muffed punt, but the defense has been incredibly active stealing possession.

Reggie Nelson has a nose for the ball, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sean Smith and David Amerson have two picks each and Bruce Irvin leads the league with four forced fumbles.

Turnovers make all those yards allowed easy to stomach, and has kept the Raiders in several close games. The force big mistakes and don’t make many, proven with a plus-eight turnover ratio ranked No. 3 overall.

“It’s given us a chance to win some games, where you could just look at other statistics and say we wouldn’t have a chance.” Smith said. “That’s what the game is about, and us finding ways to compete. Hopefully we stay after it that way.”

The Raiders have stayed after it in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on just 50 percent of opponent trips inside their 20-yard line.

While big plays have brought wins and positivity to the defense, the season’s first half has been difficult for Raiders expecting more.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smith said. “You come into the year with all these aspirations and things you want to do. When it doesn’t go your way you have to stay after it, keep putting the work in and know it’s not going to be wasted. Hopefully we’re making strides and those improvements will show on Sundays.”

The Raiders believe the defense is close to being good, and has done a solid job masking issues with takeaways and timely production.

“Our team has done a great job of competing to win games,” Smith said. “If we keep doing that, everything will be fine.”

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders were certainly happy they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars into submission. They jumped out to a strong halftime lead, played smart complimentary football and, at 33-16, ended up with a large margin of victory.

All, however, was not right with the world.

Derek Carr lamented settling for too many field goals. Latavius Murray wanted more efficiency from his runs. Defensive players saw progress in several deficient areas, still seeking greater cohesion and consistency.

[BAIR: Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars]

Sunday’s big victory over lowly Jacksonville was not a sign they've arrived. It was proof these Raiders remain a work in progress.

Records normally suffer with much to correct. These Raiders are 5-2, and feel better football’s ahead.

“That’s what is great about this team is that we haven’t played our best yet,” Murray said. “That’s a good feeling moving forward, knowing there are things you can get better at and you’re still 5-2.”

Winning while fixing things; that’s a coach’s dream. It’s also easier when players know it, that egos don’t expand and confidence doesn’t become arrogance.

“I like that part. I like the fact that we recognize it,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy.

“You should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it, but to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year. That’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch and have survived several games on guts, guile and turnovers -- a recipe for success with inconsistent production.

The Raiders defense believes it made strides in the Jaguars win, though there’s significant work remaining to be a decent defense. With the offense rolling, that’s all the Raiders need to be a top team. Defenders aren’t striving for decent. They want more, and believe that realizing potential could put them in position for a playoff push.

“This team has so much talent, with good coaches and good players,” cornerback David Amerson said. “The sky’s the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out there and beat teams 30-0. Once we get to that point, that’s when we can look towards the playoffs and things like that. We have just as much talent as any team in the league.”