McClain back looking for more

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Second-year fullback expects expanded role

July 31, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN REPORTER

Much has changed for Le'Ron McClain in the past year.

A fourth-round pick out of Alabama, McClain was just hoping to make the Ravens during training camp last summer at McDaniel College in Westminster. McClain performed well enough to leapfrog over Justin Green to earn the starting job at fullback.

"I was told the Tuesday before the first game," McClain recalled yesterday after morning practice. "I just took it as a blessing and I went forward with it the whole year."

McClain acknowledges that he had some jitters going into the season-opening loss at Cincinnati, and nerves might have contributed to his fumbling in a 27-20 defeat to the Bengals.

"I was so nervous that first game, I jumped offside, I fumbled once, but I came back and had a great game," said McClain, who fumbled after trying to get extra yardage while dragging a couple of defenders.

McClain, who was used mostly to block for Willis McGahee and protect the revolving door of Ravens quarterbacks, sees more opportunity to expand his game under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

"I do a lot more in the offense, a whole bunch. I'm looking forward to the season," said McClain, who finished with only eight carries for 18 yards and nine catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.

"I've got to know fullback and halfback stuff. You never know what position he'll put you in."

With Green trying to unseat McClain as the starting fullback, McClain feels he is up to the challenge.

"I'm in way better shape than I was last year, more disciplined," McClain said. "I'm going hard every play, going every play like it's my last."

Reed's injury

Four-time Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed has yet to practice with the Ravens at training camp, and yesterday coach John Harbaugh finally shed light on what had been something of cloudy picture in the secondary.

"His situation has to do with a shoulder issue that he's working on right now," Harbaugh said. "It's a strengthening issue, and that takes a little bit of time."

Shooting for 30

Reserve linebacker Nick Greisen will turn 29 on Aug. 10, meaning he has another year to qualify for Harbaugh's newly formed club of players 30 and over who get to sit out a practice every three days.

"I'm wondering if he's going to make me wait until I turn 30 or it's going to be, 'We'll give you a little leeway,' " Greisen joked.

Not that Greisen would have minded getting a break yesterday.

Coming into the morning workout with a sore groin, Greisen tweaked it early in practice. After limping off the field, Greisen got his left leg taped on the outside of his uniform to give him a little more support and soldiered on.

"Today would have been nice to get a little rest on my groin," Greisen said.

Those who took advantage yesterday of being in their 30s included linebacker Ray Lewis, cornerback Corey Ivy, wide receiver Derrick Mason, defensive tackle Trevor Pryce and nose tackle Kelly Gregg.

don.markus@baltsun.com

Q&A

Rookie safety Tom Zbikowski was successful in his only professional boxing bout, knocking out Robert Bell in 49 seconds of their June 2006 fight at New York's Madison Square Garden. Zbikowski, a third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, still keeps up with the sport and some of its fighters.

Q: Who's your favorite boxer?

A: [Miguel] Cotto. I watch all of his fights, but I didn't like the result of the last one (his first loss to Antonio Margarito).

Q: Do you follow MMA?

A: No, I'm more of a purist. I know a lot of my friends get into that, but I don't know a lot about it and what you can do and can't do with chokeholds.

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