Earlier in July, the NFL handed down a four-game suspension, without pay, to Dallas Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain. That's not the only issue plaguing McClain as the Cowboys kick off training camp. After missing most of the team's spring practices, McClain is expected to be placed on the physically unable to perform list as he continues his rehabilitation from offseason arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones is disappointed in McClain, and he admits that McClain is also disappointed in himself. After fighting so hard to get back into football, a mistake like this is a costly one.
“You’re disappointed any time a player is not going to be out on the field. You certainly want players to be accountable for their actions off the field,” Jones said Wednesday following the opening press conference of training camp, per The Dallas Morning News. “I know he certainly feels like he should be better than that with his teammates and things of that nature.
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McClain was a major factor in the turnaround for the Cowboys' defense in 2014. In his return to the NFL, after sitting out the 2013 season, McClain had the best season of his career. He finished as Pro Football Focus' seventh-best inside linebacker, earning positive grades as a run defender, pass rusher and in pass coverage.
Despite his success on a per-snap basis and overall, McClain dealt with injuries and a lack of stamina in 2014. He only played 654 defensive snaps. For perspective, Brandon Carr led the Cowboys in defensive snaps with 1,028.
According to NFL regulations, McClain is eligible to practice in training camp and play in all the preseason games despite his suspension. Free agent acquisition Jasper Brinkley had filled in for McClain with the first team defense at middle linebacker during spring practices. He will remain there at least until McClain is healthy enough to participate in team drills, but keep in mind that Brinkley has struggled as a starter in the NFL.