McClain's return from injury remains uncertain

McClain's return from injury remains uncertain
July 23, 2013, 6:15 pm
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With Jameel McClain’s status uncertain, there will be more pressure on other inside linebackers to step up during training camp.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh admitted Tuesday that he was uncertain when McClain (spinal cord contusion) would be cleared for practice. McClain has been placed on the PUP list, and has been sidelined since suffering his injury last December.

“It’s a tougher one to predict, because he’s got the back issue, spinal cord issue,” Harbaugh said after Tuesday’s first training camp workout, featuring rookies and quarterbacks. “Until that heals, and we have proof that it’s healed, he’s not going to be out there. Doctors had anticipated that he would be out here by this time. It’s a little slower maybe than we had hoped, but when he’s ready, he’ll be out there. He’ll take some more tests tomorrow (Wednesday). We’ll have more for you on that on Thursday.”

Who will step up to fill the void if McClain’s absence is lengthy? Start with second-round-pick Arthur Brown, who will be asked to develop quickly. Brown had offseason sports hernia surgery, but Harbaugh declared Brown full recovered.

Then there is Daryl Smith, signed as a free agent this offseason, after spending his entire NFL career with the Jaguars. Smith was limited by injuries in 2012, but the Ravens hope that at age 31, Smith still has quality play left. Josh Bynes could also play a larger role at inside linebacker.

Meanwhile, the Ravens will hope for good news on McClain, who started 13 games last season. The Ravens lost two other inside linebackers when Ray Lewis retired, and Dannell Ellerbe signed with the Dolphins in free agency. If the Ravens cannot count on McClain, filling the void left by Lewis and Ellerbe will be tougher.