With the loss of Terrell Suggs, for at least the beginning of 2012 , the hot topic around Baltimore has been who will step in as the teams rush linebacker? Nationally the answer seems to be rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw as NFL Network and ESPN have already anointed him Suggs' replacement. Fans around the city want to see ore of Paul Kruger and Sergio Kindle. Then, there is the cult following of Michael McAdoo who hasn't played a football game since 2010. However, the player to watch in this situation may be second year undrafted free agent Albert McClellan.
McClellan turned a lot of heads in 2011. He went from a virtually unknown practice squad player to the teams leading special teams tackler and a valuable back up on defense. Last season when Ray Lewis went down it was McClelllan that the coaches trusted to run with the first team defense. He started at inside linebacker on Thanksgiving and played extremely well, as did the entire defense. He was always around the ball. You can see it in his play on special teams as well. Returners rarely got past McClellan even after they had given a few players the slip, when Albert had them in his sights, he took them down. He is a tackler and he can stop the run.
"I’m going to set the edge on the run. Setting the edge is what I do," McClellan said on Friday.
"Hopefully I can compete for a position. That’s what we’re here for is to compete. So by me knowing as many positions as I can learn from [Defensive Coordinator Dean] Pees, it lends room for me to step up and take more responsibility."
McClellan plays the run very well. He could potentially see the field a lot this season as an early down player. He seems like the kind of player that makes it hard to take him off the field once he's gotten on. He is a play maker. As a sophomore In college, at Marshall where he was a hand in the dirt defensive end, he was ranked sixth in the nation in tackles for loss with 19. He was voted conference USA Defensive MVP.
When asked about the open linebacker positions here is what John Harbaugh had to say:
"Albert McClellan will be in the mix, and others potentially, but I’d be surprised if he doesn’t rise to the occasion and have a heck of a year," Harbaugh said at last week’s pre-draft press conference.
The Ravens run defense will have a lot of adjustments to make this season with out their two starters at outside linebackers from the past eight seasons. They do have Paul Kruger, Courtney Upshaw and some other talented guys to chose from but McClellan knows the system, can play multiple positions and seems to have the favor of the coaching staff. It would not surprise me to see him starting at one of our starting outside linebackers this season.