Q&A with Rolando McClain


Q: What was your initial reaction to being drafted by the Raiders?

McClain: For the most part, I was at a loss for words. I mean, it was crazy. All the work that I've put in, in the last 20 years has finally paid off.

Q: Did you have much contact with them before today, and if so, did you get an idea that they were that strongly interested in you?

McClain: No, I had no idea that the Raiders were that interested. All I know is that I came down in the last week and talked with me, but I don't know, they weren't like the other teams that I thought were interested in me, that actually brought me in for visits. I don't know, it was just a different vibe, but when they came here last week I felt pretty strong that they wanted me. I just didn't know how bad they wanted me.

Q: What message did Coach Cable give you?

McClain: He didn't really give me a message, he just asked me if I was ready to play football, ready to play line backer with the Oakland Raiders? I said yes. Then he asked meif I could read his defense, and I said of course I can. That's all he had, had a couple questions. He just asked me if I was ready to be an Oakland Raider. I said yeah. He told me that they were going to draft me.

Q: What can you, and what will you bring to this defense?

McClain: Just my intensity. Not just as a football player, but as a leader, a teammate, and friend to these guys. I'm accustomed to winning and I know these guys are just ready to get back to winning the way they used to win. I know the Raiders haven't had the greatest season(s) the past few years, but everything's ready to turn around and everything happens for a reason. I think Coach Cable, as well as myself, and a lot of these other guys are going to turn this program around, and we're going to get back to winning, get back to the playoffs, get back to having fun, and playing good football.

Q: A lot of rookies come in and kind of take their time getting to learn everybody, and they kind of let the veterans take over. But Coach Cable talked about you being a guy who really takes control of the defense, who gathers his teammates together for film study, things like that, will that be a problem for you in the NFL, coming in and asserting yourself in your rookie year?

McClain: No. My personality as far as meeting guys, I'm not the most outgoing guy, I'm shy and I stay to myself, but when it comes to football, my job, something that I love doing, I'll do whatever it takes to win. If that means going out and yelling at a guy in practice just to get everybody on the rope, or if it's getting everybody together, because we're not all in the same place offense and defense to watch film. I do what I have to do in order for the defense to work as a team and have success. So, it's something I don't mind doing, something I look forward to doing, but I don't think I'll have to much trouble. I know the rest of my teammates are ready to get back to winning, we're going to start working. I think everybody's just eager for me to play football and get ready for the season.

Q: Rolando, this team has struggled against the run, did you know that, do you follow the NFL enough to know that, and do you think as one person you can have an impact on that?

McClain: I don't know, I haven't really followed the Raiders too much, so I don't know how much success they've had against the run. But I'm sure Coach Cable has great things in his mind. Me personally, I'm going to do my job, and I pride myself. I pride myself on stopping the run. So, I think some of those d-linemen, and linebackers, everybody including me, I think we're all going to do what we have to do to stop the run, and I'll make this defense look good doing it.

Q: Rolando, how long have you been a linebacker? How long have you played the position and when did you decide that was the position for you?

McClain: I started playing linebacker my ninth grade year of high school and since then I've been playing it. I started off as an outside linebacker up until my senior year. Everybody started running the ball away from me, so I had to run everybody down. They put me at middle linebacker so I could go both ways and since then, my senior year, I've played middle linebacker.

Q: What do you like about playing linebacker?

McClain: You get to hit somebody every play. That's the best part, that sums it up. You get to hit someone on every play. At middle linebacker, you're like the quarterback of the defense. You're in control and I like being in control as far as lining everybody up and getting everybody going. I like that and embrace that role. I know I like being that middle linebacker.

Q: Do you see yourself as a three-down linebacker? People have underestimated your pass coverage.

McClain: I'll just say this - I never came off the field in my collegiate career. No matter what it was, third and 15 or 16, I've never come off the field. I've faced the best of running backs, slot receivers, and I've guarded them man to man. We don't play much zone at Alabama. I've done a lot of good coverage in my time and I've played against a lot of guys from the SEC who are NFL players now. So, now I know I can do it and I'm sure coach feels the same way.

Q: We've heard stories about you and your ability to watch and analyze film. Do you watch film early in the morning or late at night? What do you look for?

McClain: When you talk about film, I give 95 percent credit to Coach Nick Saban. He showed me what to watch for when I watch film. My thing is I get away before practice and I watch film for particular things. I have a sort of order for what I watch for in film and what I look for. I won't tell you exactly what it is, but I have an order to how I watch it.

Q: How do you think Coach Saban has prepared you for life in the NFL?

McClain: I don't know, I give Coach Saban all the credit for me being who I am. I just thank God and my family, but Coach Saban has made me the player I am now. Not only in watching film, but he's helped me how to tackle, taught me how to read things and play particular linemen. I give credit to him, he did all those things. Not only teach me how to be a football player, but he's been a good role model and a father figure. He's made me the person I am today.

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