The Dallas Cowboys traded for former first-round pick Rolando McClain this offseason in an effort to revitalize his career and get McClain to care about football with the motivation of the team’s starting middle linebacker gig as the dangling carrot (if playing in this league isn’t enough motivation for him). A former first-round pick, McClain flashed his talent at the beginning of his career with the Oakland Raiders, but he’s been in-and-out of the game since. Although he isn’t a consistent player, McClain has exceptional tools and can be a real boon in coverage due to his athletic ability.
McClain has been making the Cowboys look good for their gutsy call, as they didn’t have many options to add competition at the linebacker position. They briefly kicked around the idea of adding veterans Jonathan Vilma or Brian Urlacher, but they realized that those guys are just too washed up; they decided to think outside of the box and take a go-big-or-go-home approach with McClain. He’s been rising up the depth chart in training camp, and he worked his way up to first-team reps at the behest of the Cowboys.
It’s possible the Cowboys are too high on the guy, but he’s very much a legit option in the wide-open competition for Sean Lee’s job. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill, McClain has indeed been rising, but his “rise” has caused Bruce Carter, whom the Cowboys coaching staff was high on earlier this offseason, to “fall”. In fact, he believes Carter could end up being the “odd man out” at the linebacker position, with experienced run-stuffer Justin Durant replacing him as the weak-side linebacker.
The Cowboys LB competition is still very much open, but it’s worth passing along that Carter is being mentioned as a possible cut. It’s still a bit too early to tell how the pieces are falling into place, but I’m sure we’ll all be keeping a close eye out for reports on how McClain and Carter are doing (among others).