Raiders' linebacker McClain adjusts to limited role

U.S. Presswire File PhotoLight duty: Rolando McClain was taken out of the nickel package and will only be a fill-in linebacker for the time being.

Rolando McClain arrived in Oakland two years ago expected to be the impact middle linebacker who could transform a Raiders defense that had struggled for years to stop the run.

Less than halfway through his third season with the Raiders, McClain has been relegated to spot duty. McClain is now only being used in base defensive packages, playing a season-low 17 defensive plays last week in Atlanta.

While McClain figures to get more time Sunday against the more run-oriented Jacksonville Jaguars, he will remain a part-time player for the time being.

“It makes my job easy, just focus on base whenever that is and go from there,” McClain said Thursday. “You understand the situation, you understand the transition whatever that may be. You’re not naive to the fact of what’s going on. But at the same time you’re still a team player.”

A heralded college star at Alabama who helped the Crimson Tide win a national championship, McClain came to Oakland as the eighth overall pick in 2010.

But he has failed to produce, recording just 5½ sacks, one interception, no forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in 35 career games.

McClain averaged about 68 defensive snaps a game the first four weeks, staying on the field in almost all of Oakland’s alignments. But the coaches reassessed things during the bye week and decided to take McClain out of the nickel package.

That led him to play only 17 of 55 defensive snaps last week in a 23-20 loss at Atlanta.

NOTES: CB Shawntae Spencer (sprained right foot) is off crutches for the first time since getting hurt in Week 2 in Miami but is not yet ready to practice. … The Raiders have been granted a one-day extension from the league to sell enough tickets to avoid a local blackout of Sunday’s game.

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