Like 13-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewis, Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain acknowledged that he has shed some weight in preparation for the upcoming season.
McClain, who recorded 81 tackles last season, is listed at 245 pounds, but he conceded Thursday that he is slightly lower than that, hovering around 240 pounds.
“[I]t’s becoming more of a passing league,” McClain reasoned after the first full-team practice of training camp. “So the goal is to try to stay out there as long as you can and still stay strong and get all of those things done. But everybody wants to pass the ball, everybody wants to go no-huddle. So the 255-, 260-pound linebacker, I know those days are disappearing – slowly, but surely.”
McClain said he did not encounter any objection from the coaches about losing the pounds.
“The great thing about this organization is they allow you to better yourself as a player,”: he said. “We all understand that we’re professionals and we’re going to do what’s best for us, but at the end of the day, when you’re thinking about yourself, it’s always about the team. So if I get better as a player individually, I help the team out consequently.”
In addition to finishing second only to Lewis in tackles, McClain also posted one sack, one interception, five pass breakups and two fumble recoveries – one of which he returned for his first career touchdown in a 34-17 victory over the New York Jets on Oct. 2.
But McClain said he spent a good portion of his training regimen working to refine his pass-coverage skills.
“The point of emphasis for me was to be a better player – like it is every year,” he said. “Every year, I pick something that I can hone in on. For me, it was being more aware in coverage and then pass rushing because it may be an opportunity for me to go out there and do something in the pass rush. So I worked on those things to try to be better on that part.”