McClain sounds off on start of new season

September 3, 2012, 8:22 pm
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ALAMEDA -- While Rolando McClain has been practicing and preparing for the start of his third NFL season with essentially a clean slate from the Raiders' new regime, he has also been doing so under the veil of a potential suspension by the NFL.Not that McClain has been sweating it. Not even with the league saying McClain's situation -- he was convicted of four counts of third-degree assault, menacing, discharging a handgun in city limits and reckless endangerment in May and it is under appeal awaiting a jury trial -- is still under review."No, I dont think Ive ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," McClain said Monday, when asked if it has been difficult to stay focused. "I havent heard it. I guess thats all speculation."So, it has not been hard to stay focused on the field, then?"Its football," he said. "I get paid to play football."McClain, who does not particularly enjoy speaking to the media and shooed away a camera on Monday, was talking to reporters for the second time since reporting to training camp in July.He also broached several other topicsOn if he senses the new defense suits his game better: "I feel good about the defense. Its not just my game or anybodys game in particular. I think it suits everybody on the defense from linebacker to D-line to secondary. Were all able to make plays on the defense. We just have to make them when your number is called."On if the new defense will give the Raiders an edge by being more active: "I dont know. I think the Raiders have been so accustomed to playing straight 'man' with everybody knowing what were going to be in. Now its just being a little diverse, changing things up will benefit us some. At the same time offenses, they still game plan. Eventually theyll see our pressures and theyll pick up on them. Its 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."On new defensive coordinator Jason Tarver: "Crazy little guy. Hes a fiery coach. We need somebody on this side of the ball thats active. I like him. He brings energy to the defense."On if having a defensive-minded head coach will help: "I dont know. Its good to have a defensive head coach. At the end of the day the players have to go play. You can have the best coach in the world but the players have to go out and make plays. Thats how I feel about it."On if he's learning or growing as a vocal leader: "I wouldnt say learning. I was a pretty good leader at Alabama in college. Its different here. Its just different. Youre not dealing with guys your own age. Youre dealing with grown men. Being a leader is just not about yelling but understanding guys that youre working with. Different people respond to different things in different ways. Its figuring out your teammates and how they respond to things to get them to work. Its still a process."On his two new starting linebackers, Philip Wheeler and rookie Miles Burris: "So far, so good. The real bullets will start flying this Monday. Thats what matters. We dont get paid for preseason or practice. We get paid for what happens in a game. So, well see."On how the defensive underachieving last year affected him: "I dont know. Im not talking about the past. This is a new year. The past is the past for a reason. Its a new year, and we got a chance to go out and be as good as we want to be."On if camp was run this year like they were at Alabama under Nick Saban, in terms of attention to detail: "We have a great head coach, we have a great general manager, and theyre doing things the right way. I dont know if this is coach Sabans way, so to speak. But theyre doing a great job."On how the stem-cell treatments he received in the spring helped him: "I feel fine. The stem cell stuff was just so I wouldnt have these nagging injuries and they dont prolong into the season. Right now, I feel good going into the season. So, well see."