ROLANDO MCCLAIN ACTIVATED
Last Thursday, the Ravens activated previously-retired linebacker Rolando McClain, despite McClain failing to inspire confidence at a workout held on Tuesday. McClain’s contract with the team is a one-year deal, and is only worth the veteran minimum of $700k. The money is also not guaranteed, so the move a shrewd way for the Ravens to see what McClain may have left.
McClain is a former top-10 pick in the draft, selected at 8th overall by the Oakland Raiders in 2010. He is only 24 years old but was arrested three times in under a year at one point, and has been suspended for two games in the past as well. McClain retired abruptly before last season, and says he now has his priorities straight.
McClain is in no way a lock to remain on the roster, especially after head coach John Harbaugh said the decision would come down to whether or not McClain could prove he was more mature. Since that statement, McClain has arrived late to a team workout, and failed to get through conditioning.
McClain proved to be an adequate situational NFL linebacker in his time with the Raiders, especially defending against the run. In 41 career games, McClain registered 246 tackles, but only 6.5 sacks. Recent reports say McClain is expected to join the team as soon as today for the offseason program.
JIMMY SMITH OPTION PICKED UP
Last Thursday, the Ravens announced that the team had picked up the fifth-year option on cornerback Jimmy Smith. While the Ravens could have opted to wait until as late as May 3rd, the team wanted to make their intentions clear as quickly as possible, in hopes of signing the 25-year-old to a long-term deal.
Smith is a former first-round pick from 2011, who finally played up to his potential last season, after struggling with injuries in his first few seasons. Smith beat out Corey Graham for a starting cornerback spot last preseason, and emerged as the team’s best cornerback as the season progressed, shutting down elite wide receivers like Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, and Brandon Marshall.
Smith finished 2013 with 16 pass breakups and two interceptions, and under the current one-year contract he has with the team, he will make between $6.5 and $7 million next season. His defense on wide receiver Michael Crabtree on fourth down in the Super Bowl two seasons ago could have been a turning point in his career.
Smith finally lived up to expectations last season, and appears to have as high of a ceiling as any defender on the Ravens’ roster. If the team can sign Smith long-term, the prospects of Smith and fellow cornerback Lardarius Webb for the next few seasons will be daunting to quarterbacks throughout the league.
HARBAUGH HONORED BY MIAMI UNIVERSITY
Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh was honored last week by his alma mater, Miami University, when he was added to Miami University’s Cradle of Coaches. Harbaugh joins Earl Blaik, Paul Brown, Carm Cozza, Paul Dietzel, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, John Pont, and Bo Schembechler.
Harbaugh was deemed worthy of induction after he led the Ravens to their franchise’s second Super Bowl title two seasons ago. The display of statues outside of the football stadium now features Harbaugh himself, with his right arm raised high in the air victoriously.
Harbaugh also said he began to seriously consider a future in coaching while he was at the University. “When you grow up as a coach’s kid, you’re probably always thinking about it,” he said. “I was probably trying to think about getting through the next day and getting to the next class, but I think it’s always on your mind as a coach’s kid.”
The easygoing Harbaugh compared the feelings he had to those of Bubba Watson’s after the latter won the Masters earlier in the week. “It’s like Bubba Watson said last week. He was asked, ‘You ever dream of something like this?’ He said, ‘Naw, my dreams never got this far.’ That’s exactly how I feel.”
RAVENS AND 49ERS TO PRACTICE TOGETHER
With the NFL schedule for the 2014-2015 season expected to be released as soon as this week, one of the only things the Ravens know for sure is that they will host the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday August 6. In an unusual circumstance, the 49ers will not leave Baltimore immediately following the completion of the game.
Instead, the 49ers will stay in Baltimore until midday on Monday. While the 49ers are in town for the additional days, they will practice with the Ravens for three days in Owings Mills at the Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center.
The Harbaugh brothers will also likely be joined by their father, Jack, who is planning to attend as well. Head Coach John Harbaugh joked with the media last week, saying that his father would be present because, “He’s going to be in charge of breaking up all fights- different brotherly scuffles. If we start rolling around on the field my dad is going to have to jump in I guess.”
This will likely be a less stressful time for the Harbaugh brothers to spend time together during the NFL season. Their previous two times crossing paths include a game on Thanksgiving night, and then a matchup in the Super Bowl the following year. Somehow, this meeting seems likely to be slightly less dramatic.