Albert McClellan’s absence reverberates among Ravens players, coaches

Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine Sr., who credits his “Co-Cap” nickname to linebacker Albert McClellan, is one of the team’s more prolific talkers. But when Levine found out that the Ravens had waived McClellan on Saturday, Levine was at a loss for words.

“It was very difficult,” he said Thursday. “When I found out, I immediately called him. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. I was just like, ‘Wow.’ I feel like I’m ‘Co-Cap’ and he’s ‘Cap.’ So it was tough, man. It was tough.”

The NFL’s annual business of cutting players has forced many players and coaches to develop a thick skin. But there are some decisions that can pierce the shell, and the release of McClellan, an eight-year veteran who joined the Ravens as an undrafted rookie in 2010, continued to resonate with teammates and coaches.

“That was tough because Albert and I have been here together since I’ve been here, and his leadership and his toughness are the first two things that come to mind,” said defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale, who was hired by the organization in 2012 as the inside linebackers coach. “Who knows? Maybe he can come back here. We’ll see about that. But that was a tough one. I’m just going to miss him — period, like your kid goes off to college or something.”

McClellan’s age (32), injury history (torn right ACL) and salary ($1.25 million base) opened the door for the team to retain undrafted rookie Chris Board, who is 23 and scheduled to make $480,000. The former North Dakota State standout praised McClellan.

“He definitely taught me a lot, especially as far as special teams,” Board said. “He’s kind of been my mentor throughout this whole process with me being a rookie and knowing what to expect. So definitely I have some really big shoes to fill.”

While noting coach John Harbaugh’s comment that the organization could bring back McClellan later in the season, special teams coordinator and associate head coach Jerry Rosburg said he will miss McClellan’s wealth of knowledge on the field and in the meeting room.

“Just the idea of going out to practice without Albert out there was challenging because he’s such a stabilizing factor with our young players and our punt protection and the meeting rooms,” Rosburg said. “He has such a big role for us. So that was certainly an adjustment that we’ve had to make — in all of us, not just the coaches, but the players as well. But Albert made the meeting easy. He was amazing, like you might expect him to be, I guess. So hopefully, I heard it mentioned, that perhaps this is not over. I hope that’s the case, but we’ll see what goes on down the road. I know I owe a great deal to him personally. He’s been a big part of my life, and I know our club has been better for him being here both as a player and a person. I’m sure I’ll see him soon.”

Levine said he has noticed more questions about special teams from younger players since McClellan’s absence. And he agreed with Rosburg’s assessment that he may have to bear more responsibility with that unit.

“I feel like I have to take charge, but I’m not trying to overdo anything,” Levine said. “I still have to lead by example. That’s all Jerry asks me to do, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do — go out there and just play and lead by example.”

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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