McClain's return should help Ravens run defense

McClain's return should help Ravens run defense
October 22, 2013, 7:00 am
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Suggs says Ravens in 'state of emergency'

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens as they try to fix what is going wrong.

Two-minute topic: Will Jameel McClain’s return at inside linebacker help the Ravens become more stout defending the run?

McClain played Sunday for the first time in 10 months, and was elated to be a participant instead of a spectator. With normal starter Josh Bynes (infected finger) unavailable, McClain started the game, and played in run situations, sharing time with Arthur Brown, who played primarily in passing situations.

“It was a long journey,” said McClain, who suffered a spinal cord contusion in December, then waited months to receive medical clearance. “It was great to be out there. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere in the world but out there with my teammates, win, lose or draw.”

McClain would have been more elated had the Ravens won. Their run defense continued to struggle, as Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (19 carries, 93 yards) had a strong game.

“They were dedicated on running the ball,” McClain said. “Regardless of what they did, we got to stop the run. We didn’t do that successfully. The front seven, we have to take responsibility for that.”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh appreciated McClain being critical, but liked the McClain’s five-tackle performance.

“I thought he played a good game,” Harbaugh said. “Given the circumstances, probably played really well. Hadn’t played for a long time, hadn’t practiced much, was thrown into a situation because of Josh’s situation where he had to play quite a few snaps. He did a solid job, and he’s only going to get better from here on out. He came out of it healthy, so that’s important. He’ll really benefit from the next couple days of work.”

Once Bynes returns, it will be interesting to see how playing time is divided among Bynes, McClain, and Brown, playing inside opposite Daryl Smith. However, having McClain back in the mix should only make the Ravens’ defense stronger.

Morning thought: “We’ve got to get hot a little bit and win some close games. It’s going be a long season, and we have an opportunity going forward. We’ve just got to become a good football team.” Harbaugh on the state of the Ravens.

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