After being sidelined for more than 10 months with a spinal cord injury, weak-side linebacker Jameel McClain returned to the field Sunday. And he didn’t just play. McClain started and played a major role.
With starter Josh Bynes sidelined due to an infected finger that required surgery -- gross -- McClain played 30 of the team’s 57 snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers, two more than rookie Arthur Brown.
McClain didn’t make a major impact in the 19-16 loss, but with six tackles and a significant workload in his return, I am curious to see how the Ravens divvy up the snaps at inside linebacker after the bye week.
Here are other observations from the official snap counts:
--- With the offense spending most of the game in three-wide sets, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown each played at least 46 snaps. Torrey Smith played 59 out of a possible 62. Jacoby Jones played 49 in his second game back from a knee injury. Brown played 46 and Tandon Doss played 12. Deonte Thompson did not play on offense.
--- On the flip side of the coin for the offense was fullback Vonta Leach, who was kept on the sideline so the Ravens could use a third receiver to spread out the Steelers. The former Pro Bowler played just 12 offensive snaps in the loss, many coming in the second half. Running back Ray Rice played 44 snaps and Bernard Pierce played 15.
--- Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs was an iron man in the loss. He sat out just one defensive snap, easily giving him his highest participation percentage of the season. Courtney Upshaw played 34 snaps at strong-side linebacker compared to 33 for Elvis Dumervil. With Suggs staying on the field, Pernell McPhee played just seven snaps.
--- Dallas Clark had normally been the team's pass-catching tight end when they used 11 personnel, but with the Ravens using so many three-wide sets, both Clark and Ed Dickson played 31 snaps apiece. It is also worth noting the Ravens released third tight end Billy Bajema to activate McClain, knowing they wouldn’t be using two-TE sets.
--- There is nothing surprising about the team's five starting offensive linemen playing every snap, but backup tackle Rick Wagner played eight snaps when they used a six-man line and backup center A.Q. Shipley played three. I remember at least one play when the Ravens used seven linemen, but I didn’t realize Shipley played two others.
--- Nose tackle Haloti Ngata once again led all Ravens defensive linemen with 43 snaps. Defensive end Chris Canty played 31 and defensive tackle Arthur Jones played 30. Marcus Spears played 15. Rookie Brandon Williams, who recorded his first NFL sack, played 11 snaps. DeAngelo Tyson was inactive for the first time since Week 2.
--- Starting cornerback Jimmy Smith and safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam again played every down on D. Lardarius Webb played 53 snaps. Corey Graham played 28.
--- Anthony Levine led the Ravens in special-teams snaps with 20 and rookies John Simon and Kyle Juszczyk played 19 apiece. Jeromy Miles, signed three weeks ago to strictly play special teams, played 14 snaps. Backup safety Michael Huff, who hasn’t played on defense since Week 4, was on the field for just five snaps on special teams.