Notes: McClain One Big Tailback


Le'Ron McClain has been feeling nostalgic lately.

Entering his second season, the Ravens fullback has recently been reminded of his adolescent years after changing his jersey number from 37 back to 33, which he wore as an All-State tailback at Tuscaloosa County (Ala.) High School.

The 33 was up for grabs when the Ravens released fullback Justin Green last week to add depth at other positions.

"I've actually been wearing 33 since high school, but it was already taken when I got here," McClain said. "I had to take it when it became available."

Now that he's in his familiar jersey, McClain will also have a chance to relive his prep dreams running the ball more often, a strategy Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron plans to implement in 2008.

With Willis McGahee sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from an Aug. 11 surgery on his left knee, the Ravens are starting rookie Ray Rice at running back. But as a changeup, Cameron envisions utilizing a backfield that features 255-pound fullback Lorenzo Neal paving the way for McClain, a 260-pounder, at times.

Against the Minnesota Vikings Saturday, McClain only rushed twice for four yards, yet still relished every time he had the ball in his hands.

"I played tailback a lot in high school and a little bit in college, so it's nice to be back to it," said McClain, who turned 165 attempts into 1,071 yards (6.5-yard average) and 15 touchdowns as a prep senior.

"I got the ball a few times against Minnesota, and that felt good. I'm hoping to get a few more carries."

After attending classes at the University of Alabama and taking care of his 8-month-old daughter over much of the offseason, McClain is the first to admit that he came into training camp out of shape.

McClain dug in during the first few weeks at McDaniel College and quickly regained his wind, which made Ravens coaches more comfortable giving him the football. And now that he has the recently-signed Neal, a four-time Pro Bowler, to learn from, McClain feels his main job as a fullback will only improve.

"It's just hard work paying off, doing the extra stuff after practice," said the 23-year-old. "Lorenzo's been great. It's just the little stuff on the field, like blocking. He tells me his keys and what he's looking at. It can only help me.

"And, he's been blocking for me when I'm at running back, so I have to thank him."

With a fresh nameplate and number in his locker, McClain is set for 2008. He just has to remember to send some of the new threads back home.

"My mom has a few old jerseys, so I'm going to have to tell her to give them away so I can get her some of the new ones," McClain said with a laugh.

Williams for Opener?

Wideout Demetrius Williams has been hampered all preseason by an Achilles injury, but head coach John Harbaugh thinks the three-year veteran should be ready to play in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals Sept. 7.

Williams has yet to take the field for a full practice, but he has made progress by running routes on a side field while the team goes through drills.

"He's expected to play in the opener, but until we see him out there doing it we won't know for sure," Harbaugh said.

No Single Unit

With an offense still in search of a starting quarterback and hoping to get key players back from injury, some would point to a team that needs to be carried by the defense and special teams.

Harbaugh doesn't see it that way. Instead, he views that as an excuse, as the coach expects the offense to pull its weight, as well.

"To me that's a really easy place to go, but I think everybody carries each other," Harbaugh said. "We're expecting the offense to carry the defense. We're expecting the defense to carry the offense. We're expecting special teams to carry both teams, and we're not willing to say that one side is going to carry the other side.

"Our expectation is way higher than that."


The Ravens' matchup with the St. Louis Rams this Saturday will be simulcast on MASN and WMAR-TV in Baltimore. In addition, WBAL 1090 AM and 98 Rock will both carry the radio broadcasts. Gerry Sandusky, Stan White and Rob Burnett will provide commentary for all formats…The Rams game marks Baltimore's first-ever preseason contest against the NFC West…Last season, the Ravens defeated St. Louis 22-3 at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 6.

WATCH THIS: Michael Phelps talks about Troy Smith, and his hopes for the Ravens' upcoming season.

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