Albert McClellan is a forgotten man. He went forgotten in the draft, forgotten his rookie season, forgotten last training camp, and forgotten this training camp. Making the roster as an undrafted rookie three seasons ago, McClellan is among the ranks of Bart Scott, Dannell Ellerbe, and Jameel McClain. But why is he always forgotten?
McClellan lets his play speak for itself. He made his first career start against the San Francisco 49ers on a cold Thanksgiving night where the Ravens’ defense absolutely abused Alex Smith and Frank Gore in a victorious 16-6 slugfest. McClellan played well, despite only totaling 3 tackles.
The following offseason, McClellan was moved by his coaches to strongside linebacker. The idea was to teach him the proper technique to be able to set the edge against offensive lineman and contain the run just like his predecessor, Jarrett Johnson, had. The plan was successful, as McClellan would be the opening day starter at that position.
It only took a little while for McClellan to then be surpassed on the depth chart by the much larger Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw, who is nearly 20 lbs heavier at his playing weight, had the ideal set of strength and speed for the position. As the defense began to take shape on the Ravens’ championship run, McClellan became a situational linebacker who only played in certain packages.
This past offseason, Coach John Harbaugh made it known that McClellan was officially back as an inside linebacker. Many believed this would benefit him, as his 6’2" 255 lb frame is ideal for the inside. He has already shown great instincts in both the run and pass game in the past, and the two inside linebacker spots are certainly up for grabs with Jameel McClain’s injury, Ray Lewis’ retirement, and Dannell Ellerbe’s move to Miami.
But now, as preseason has reached its midpoint and training camp is winding down, Albert McClellan seems to be the odd man out in Baltimore. Daryl Smith has solidified himself as a starter, with an apparent two man race between Arthur Brown and Josh Bynes for the other. Once (if?) Jameel McClain returns from his spinal cord contusion, another roster spot is his. Undrafted rookie and Baltimore native Brandon Copeland even seems to be getting more playing time than McClellan.
It is sad and unfortunate, as a once promising career seems to be meeting its demise as Albert McClellan’s days of relevance may be numbered.