By Aaron Wilson
The Baltimore Sun
6:42 PM EDT, July 6, 2013
Ravens starting inside linebacker Jameel McClain remains optimistic that he'll ultimately gain full medical clearance after suffering a spinal cord contusion last December against the Washington Redskins.
McClain participated in football drills on a limited basis during offseason practices and has no restrictions in his exercise regimen.
McClain is still awaiting doctors' approval for him to resume contact work.
"I'm in shape, I'm working hard, I'm trimming up and getting ready for the season," McClain said Saturday during his annual football and fitness clinic at Reisterstown Regional Park. "It's time for gametime. It's in the doctors' hands.
"All I can do is prepare myself the best that I can and be in the best of shape like I am. I've done everything I can. It's in the Lord's hands now."
McClain is scheduled to report to training camp July 21 along with rookies, quarterbacks and other selected veterans. He'll undergo a physical to determine his status.
"Everything has been very positive," McClain said. "They'll do what they have to do, and I'll be ready regardless."
McClain isn't the only one that's upbeat about his medical outlook.
"I'm 100 percent sure Jameel will be out there," said Miami Dolphins middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, a former Ravens starter who attended the camp Saturday. "They're going to have to slow him down to not go in there head-first. I know he's anxious to hit somebody. We talked about it [Friday night]. I'm just happy. I can't wait for him to get cleared."
McClain is entering the second year of a three-year, $10.5 million contract that includes a $3.6 million signing bonus.
In 13 starts last season, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound former undrafted free agent from Syracuse recorded 79 tackles. In five seasons with the Ravens, McClain has registered 280 career tackles, 4 1/2 sacks, nine pass deflections, two safeties and one interception.
Should the Ravens get McClain back in the lineup, it would significantly bolster a position that lost middle linebacker Ray Lewis to retirement and Ellerbe as a free agent this offseason. Barring a healthy McClain, the top candidates to start inside are former Jacksonville Jaguars starter Daryl Smith and second-round rookie Arthur Brown.
"Most definitely, I think Jameel's health is looking up," Ravens inside linebacker Bryan Hall said. "He did a great job with the things he could do at minicamp. We're looking forward to having him out there."