Q: How’s camp been going?
Q: Coach singled you out and said you made a huge leap from last year. Can you put your finger on it whether it’s your size, speed or weight?
Rolando McClain: I lost about five or six pounds. I think he is talking about mainly just the leadership. I feel comfortable in the defense. Coach Chuck [Bresnahan] has made things more defined, so I’m ready to play a lot faster along with the other guys, we believe in each other and we’re just ready to move on.
Q: Is there a different mindset for the defense this year in terms of a scheme or the way it’s going to be played?
Rolando McClain: I think like last year we have the same mindset. This year, I think we’re a lot more confident in the defense and with each other. So like I said, we’re able to play a lot faster, we’re flying around right now, and we’re ready for a good turnout for the game.
Q: You had a good rookie season. You made a lot of tackles and did some good things. Not a lot of forced turnovers and interceptions, so is that the next step for you?
Rolando McClain: That’s my next step and I expect those things from myself, but if you saw that in college that wasn’t something I did. I relied on more of just being a sheer tackler as well as a pretty good leader. Of course, I want to make more turnovers and force more fumbles as I think it’s a big goal of my own. But I think it’s just being a more solid player. When you look out on the field, you know 55 is going to be a dangerous player no matter where he is.
Q: What do you think about a staff with a lot of old school Raiders getting in your face and telling you what to do?
Rolando McClain: It’s a little bit of a challenge because a lot of these coaches have had a higher level of success. So, you look up to those guys and we want to have our own tradition here. We want to make a name for ourselves but when you have those kinds of guys pushing you, it makes you feel pretty good about yourself. You have legends here telling you that you had a good day. At the same time, we’re working and want to make a name for ourselves. We want to be one of the great Raider defenses and that’s what we’re striving for.
Q: How much is playing faster for you come from having a year of experience and knowing certain things?
Rolando McClain: Well, it’s a lot different. I can play fast now without thinking of what I have to do. It gives you the ability to play fast as well as make plays, but now I’m not worried about what I do and focus on what the offense is going to do in terms of formation. Overall, it does enable me to play a lot faster.
Q: Was there any point your rookie year you felt you could do that or did you feel like it was something that just had to come?
Rolando McClain: I felt it and I had games where I felt pretty comfortable. I was learning on the go and there were games where they threw me [into] the fire. But overall, I feel a lot more comfortable.
Q: Do you feel a lot quicker? You look a lot quicker out there.
Rolando McClain: I feel pretty good.
Q: Leadership - how natural is that for you?
Rolando McClain: Some of it is natural to me. It’s me just being how I am but I keep to myself and I’m not a rah-rah guy. On the field, it comes out so it’s hard for me to be a loud, vocal leader. When it comes out, it definitely comes out naturally.
Q: Who is the vocal leader on the defense right now?
Rolando McClain: I’d have to say myself [laughs]. You have
Q: Who taught you about the film study?
Rolando McClain: Coach Nick Saban. It’s just those three years working with him that prepared me for right now. I’m able to watch film and study my opponent. I give all credit to him.
Q: Did you like it right away and did it pay off?
Rolando McClain: I hated it at first and I never wanted to watch film. In high school, I just played off of pure talent. I had to learn quickly when I got to college that you need to be able to analyze your opponent and be able to know what they’re doing before they do it.
Q: Did you decide to lose the weight?
Rolando McClain: They haven’t said anything and the Raiders have followed [my weight]. But I’m back to a few pounds of where I was in college so I noticed I got stronger during college and I wasn’t as quick as I wanted to be. So, I did go back to Tuscaloosa and got me to where I am now. Lots of weight lifting and pool work, which has been easy on my joints. Swimming for an hour and a half each day helped my joints and there’s not a lot of wear and tear like I would have with running routines.
Q: How’s Tuscaloosa?
Rolando McClain: I was in Decatur when this all happened and I went down there to Tuscaloosa and it was a lot worse than I expected. I tried to do what I could do as far as volunteering to give back. There’s still a lot of work to be done. If there’s anybody in Alabama watching, go help if you can. I know it will get back to how it’s supposed to be.