COMMENTARY | During the Baltimore Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl run, they had to overcome a wide range of injuries on defense, ultimately putting the missing players aside and winning a championship.
One of those players was veteran inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who started the first 13 games of the season for Baltimore in 2012 but suffered a season-ending spinal cord injury against the Washington Redskins. At first glance, any spinal injury automatically warrants the consideration of retirement.
However, McClain was fortunate enough to not have to deal with a possible retirement, though right now it looks like his career is on hold.
Upon arriving to training camp, McClain was placed on the PUP list, and he can be removed from that list and begin practicing with the team any day. That doesn't seem like that will be occurring anytime soon, however.
On Thursday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh spoke to reporters and noted that it's unlikely McClain returns in the near future.
"When you look at the MRI and you see what's on there, there's no denying the fact that it's not safe for him at this time," Harbaugh said. "So there's no way we're going to put him out there."
For a team that is thin at inside linebacker, the news regarding McClain is far from promising. Right now, if McClain were fully healthy, he would be competing with rookie Arthur Brown and veteran Daryl Smith for one of the two starting inside linebacker jobs.
But with McClain's return to the field not imminent, Smith and Brown are on a fast track to waltz their way to starting roles, with Josh Bynes being the team's primary backup until McClain is healthy.
The biggest concern right now regarding McClain and his future is this: Will he ever get back to 100 percent? Can he return in time to be ready for the beginning of the regular season? Could being placed on the PUP -- and missing the first six games -- to start the season be the route the Ravens will take?
It's unknown how McClain's future will turn out in Baltimore but for a player whose career looked promising at one point, there's no telling whether or not he will be able to return to starting-caliber form.
Kyle Casey is a sports writer living in Baltimore, Md. He maintains his own football site, End Zone Report, and is the editor of Cat Crave.
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- Jameel McClain