The Ravens will send five players to the 2009 Pro Bowl, including three starters for the AFC's All-Star squad.
But while linebackers Ray Lewis!(/team/roster/ray-lewis/1c6d5ed3-fe49-4a89-a6b5-9e358e906ae7/ "Ray Lewis") and Terrell Suggs!(/team/roster/terrell-suggs/ad26be43-1380-45f1-b047-a91e850d9761/ "Terrell Suggs"), safety Ed Reed!(/team/roster/ed-reed/89ece203-7de4-4b40-9651-f16f4c3b7699/ "Ed Reed"), and special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo!(/team/roster/brendon-ayanbadejo/0e939635-1a76-4e0f-a8e4-525731af352f/ "Brendon Ayanbadejo") have all tasted the trip to Hawaii, fullback **Le’Ron McClain** is the latest Raven to make his inaugural appearance.
Learning of the award from head coach **John Harbaugh** in a team meeting Tuesday, McClain could barely keep his wide smile in check. The 260-pound fullback, who leads the Ravens with 693 yards on 158 carries, knew he'd come a long way since reporting to training camp admittedly overweight and out of shape.
Taking on more featured back responsibilities under new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, McClain has responded with a team-best eight total touchdowns (seven rushing).
"It's just my determination," McClain said. "I always wanted to play running back. My dream was always just to be the MVP of the Super Bowl one day playing running back. I could have my chance this year. I just remember when coach [**Cam Cameron**] told me I might have the chance to play running back now. [I] took it all in and have just been working hard to get to this point."
McClain has been solid for Baltimore all year. Starting all 14 games at eight fullback or running back in 2008, the former fourth-round draft pick has paced the Ravens in rushing seven times. Last week, he tallied 87 yards on the ground against the Pittsburgh Steelers' top-ranked run defense.
"That was great," McClain revealed. "Throughout the game, guys on the Pittsburgh side were telling me that I really got their respect. And they've got mine, too, because they got my vote also. It feels great. I just hope I continue climbing up that ladder and don't go back down."
McClain will start along with Lewis, a 10-time Pro Bowler, and Reed, who earned his fifth honor.
And while Ayanbadejo, who will go as a specialist for the third consecutive year, was a key offseason acquisition from the Chicago Bears, all four other players are originally Ravens draft picks.
Lewis, 33, has led the Ravens in tackles in 11 of 14 games this season. The franchise's second-ever selection behind offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden in 1996, Lewis currently tops Baltimore with 139 stops, adding three sacks, three interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
Reed is continuing to stake his claim as the top free safety in the NFL, pulling in his 38th and 39th career interceptions in a Week 14 victory over the Washington Redskins. Reed's five picks leads the team, while he's also returned two thefts for touchdowns, including a league-record 107-yard runback in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The seven-year veteran has pitched in two fumble recoveries, one of which he took to the end zone.
Meanwhile, Suggs admitted his third Pro Bowl was validating. Known for his prowess at rushing the passer - his already owns the Ravens' second-most sacks through his five-year career - Suggs worked on becoming more of a well-rounded player.
That has shown, as he is second on the team with 90 tackles and has two interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. Suggs also has 7.5 sacks.
"Ray said to me, 'Just because you don't really have many sacks doesn't determine the type of season that you're having,'" Suggs said. "He told me, 'You're having a monster season,' and I was like, 'I don't have that many sacks.' But, he told me that and it was just really good when they called me.""
Despite switching from the NFC to the AFC, Ayanbadejo continued his as the conference's lone invite for a special teamer. He has a team-high 26 coverage stops.
"I think it means a lot of respect, because you don't get to play against all those NFC teams, and those guys knew me," said Ayanbadejo. "I'd been playing there for three years. They kind of knew me in the AFC from when I used to be with the [Miami] Dolphins.
"But, it's just a testament to my coaches - coach **[Jerry] Rosburg** and coach Harbaugh and the scheme I've been fortunate to play in for four years now. I just keep trying to elevate my game, and the coaches keep trying to motivate me to get better at things I wasn't as good at. So, it's just a testament to my coaches."
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata!(/team/roster/haloti-ngata/9225ada6-37a5-4b66-9776-1b6e4df2fb50/ "Haloti Ngata"), who plays a major role in the Ravens' third-ranked rushing defense, was voted a first alternate, while wideout **Derrick Mason** is a third alternate.