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Ravens LB Jameel McClain medically cleared to return from spinal cord injury, sources say

The Baltimore Sun

Ravens weak-side linebacker Jameel McClain has gained medical clearance to return from his spinal cord contusion after undergoing another magnetic resonance imaging exam and is now expected to resume his playing career this season, according to multiple league sources.

Without getting into specifics, McClain expressed optimism about his status Wednesday in the Ravens' locker room.

"It's always positive news, I've been saying it since the beginning that if I don't believe, then who will?" McClain said. "We're taking another step in the direction. When the time comes, we'll see. I didn't get anything back yet, but it's going to be good information."

McClain, who remains on the NFL's reserve physically-unable-to-perform list, is eligible to begin practicing after the sixth week of the regular season and can then be activated by the team depending upon his progress.

It's unclear at what point McClain will be able to begin practicing, but a source emphasized that it will be sooner rather than later for the 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker.

"I don't know," McClain said. "You'll have to talk about that with the head man. I'm just a soldier in the war."

The Ravens have repeatedly expressed optimism that McClain will eventually return from an injury suffered last December against the Washington Redskins.

McClain didn't require surgery, hasn't complained of pain or soreness in several months and the spot on his MRI continued to get smaller and smaller in recent months with more than one doctor saying his outlook was encouraging. Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke in August on McClain's status, saying that the team wouldn't clear him until the imaging showed zero signs of the contusion.

There were no restrictions placed on his exercise regimen, and McClain remained optimistic throughout his recovery that he will ultimately play again.

The Ravens took financial precautions with McClain prior to the start of the regular season as he accepted a pay cut to reduce his base salary from $3 million to $1.5 million. The financial adjustment includes a provision for McClain to potentially make back the $1.5 million if he triggers playing-time clauses.

In five NFL seasons, the former undrafted free agent from Syracuse has 280 tackles, 4.5 sacks, two safeties and one interception. McClain started 44 games over the past three seasons, including the first 13 games of last season prior to getting hurt.

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