Jones: McClain proved his coverage skills in preseason debut

ARLINGTON, Texas – Rolando McClain played with the first-team defense and well into the third quarter during his Dallas Cowboys debut Saturday night at AT&T Stadium.

The eighth overall pick of the 2010 draft led the Cowboys with six tackles, a forced fumble and a pass deflection.

"I liked what he did out there," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "He got some good snaps, more than I thought he would get out there, and he did real well. We knew and felt that he was good in coverage and he showed tonight that he could drop back good and he gets a good feel for coverage out there."

McClain didn’t play in the preseason opener in San Diego, but the plan was to get him a good amount of work against Baltimore.

When McClain entered the game he replaced Justin Durant at middle linebacker. He also lined up next to Anthony Hitchens for an extended period of time in the nickel package.

McClain declined to comment on his play after the game.

"Hard to assess it without watching the tape, but he definitely showed up a couple of times," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "There was a play right on our bench where he pulled the ball out and he’s done an excellent job running the ball, being physical as a tackler and then getting the ball out. He’s done that all throughout training camp. It was good to see that show up a little bit.

"He had a little bit of a burden being out there and making the calls and communicating. We’ll see how that went, making sure everybody’s on the same page. But that’s what he needs to do. He needs to play in this defensive scheme and we tried to give him a chance to do that tonight."

Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota