Ravens special teams ace and valuable reserve linebacker Albert McClellan is out for the year with a torn ACL, Head Coach John Harbaugh told reporters Monday.
McClellan tore it at the end of a practice last week. It was a non-contact injury. The Ravens were hopeful that it wouldn't be anything too serious, but after the swelling went down, an MRI confirmed the tear.
"He just planted his foot to change direction and it gave out," Harbaugh said.
"He'll be with us next year. It provides a great opportunity for a couple of these young linebackers who have played well on special teams."
Losing McClellan* *is a big blow for the special teams units he leads both on the field and in the classroom. McClellan led the Ravens in special teams tackles in three of the past six seasons, including a career-high 13 stops in 2014. He's extremely physical, tough and knowledgeable.
"He is a team leader. He's not just a leader of special teams, but a team leader," Ravens Special Teams Coordinator/Associate Head Coach Jerry Rosburg said during training camp. "He's a remarkable man, and he's a huge asset to our organization."
The injury also hurts the Ravens' depth at linebacker. McClellan can fill in at any four linebacker positions if somebody goes down. Though McClellan likely wouldn't have been a starter on this year's defense, he still would have had a role and was a top backup.
Last season, he took on a larger role on defense with Elvis Dumervil sidelined. McClellan started 11 games and made a career-high 52 tackles on the league's fifth-ranked run defense.
As Harbaugh mentioned, some of the team's young linebackers that could take McClellan's spot include second-year player Patrick Onwuasor, second-round pick Tyus Bowser and undrafted rookies Bam Bradley, Donald Payne, Boseko Lokombo and Randy Allen.
Although McClellan will be on the shelf this season, he will still be an active teacher in the classroom and on the practice field.
"He's a big special teams guy that's been helping me out, teaching me the ropes and everything," Bowser said. "To see him out is heartbreaking."
The Ravens have now lost nine players to season-ending injuries since last year ended: linebacker Zachary Orr (neck), cornerback Tavon Young (knee), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), running back Kenneth Dixon (knee), tight end Crockett Gillmore (knee), guard Nico Siragusa (knee), guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), wide receiver Tim White (hand) and McClellan.
Two other players, center John Urschel (early retirement) and tight end Darren Waller (suspension) will also not play this season.