Raiders welcome back backup

Raiders welcome back backup
December 12, 2012, 4:00 pm
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Rolando McClain will have to earn his way back into the starting lineup. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

ALAMEDA -- Expecting some major blowback from teammates after the way Rolando McClain tossed the Raiders under the bus with his purported Facebook posts after getting tossed from practice two weeks ago?

Keep waiting.

McClain was welcomed back after his two-game suspension and a morning meeting with coach Dennis Allen.

"I laid out exactly what the expectations are for him moving forward," Allen said. "Really that’s about it. We’re moving on from there. Rolando’s part of this team and we’re going to move on."

Time and again, Allen said he would not get into "specifics," not about the suspension itself, what preceded it or what the post-suspension conversation entailed.

Really, the only newsy nugget to emerge was Allen saying McClain had been told he would no longer start at middle linebacker, rather, play a larger role on special teams.

"That’s where we’re at," Allen said, "and we’ll see what happens come game day."

General Manager Reggie McKenzie said on Dec. 1 that McClain had to be "apologetic" before being welcomed back. Allen, though, would not get into specifics.

Still, you'd have to think he'd have some bridge-building to do in the locker room with what he posted on Facebook: "Officially no longer an Oakland Raider!!" "Well technically I am. But I'm mentally done. Just waiting on my papers." "It's out of my hands right now." "I'm gonna weigh my options. Looking forward to playing for an actual 'team.'" And finally, "I'd like to be anywhere besides here."

And how does it not become a distraction?

"Our guys are professional," Allen said. "We move forward. Things get said in the heat of the moment and we’ve got to move on."

McClain did not make himself available to reporters following practice, leaving it up to his teammates to speak for him, so to speak.

"It’s not going to distract us," insisted team captain and quarterback Carson Palmer. "It hasn’t distracted us for the past two or three weeks, whatever it’s been. This team is completely focused on beating the Kansas City Chiefs and that’s all we’re going to worry about."

Is it hard, then, to maintain a focus like that, considering what's been reported about McClain?

"Not for me, and if anybody has a problem with it I’ll help guys through it, but it’s no issue for us," Palmer said. "We’re focused on Kansas City and that’s it."

Fullback Marcel Reece came to McClain's defense.

"Personally, I love Ro'," Reece said. "I think Ro's a good teammate. I think Ro's a great player and what happened with all that, us as players, we can't worry about it because we have no control over it. So as far as welcoming him back, he's our brother so we're going to welcome him back. We never want to lose someone to any reason, especially something that can be prevented.

"So welcoming him back is the easiest part of the game. Being without him is the hardest part."

And about his purported Facebook rant?

"People say a bunch of things, sometimes that they don't mean," Reece said. "Sometimes in the heat of the moment, sometimes out of anger. I don't know what was said, I don't know if he truly said it. It's all speculation. And to be honest with you, I could care less with what is on a social media site. You take it with a grain of salt because I'm sure Ro's not Facebooking from his phone. I guarantee that."

Still, many observers wondered, when the Raiders have cut purportedly solid citizens and decent players, salary-wise, like Pat Lee, Ron Bartell and Owen Schmitt, why not simply cut McClain, who has left much to be desired on the field, and be done with him?

"Just different circumstances," Allen said.

How so?  

"I'm not going to get into the specifics," Allen said, with a smile.