McClain reinstated from suspension, future uncertain

The SportsXchange

Rolando McClain is back, but for how long?

The Raiders middle linebacker served a two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team and was reinstated to the 53-man roster.

McClain was not present at practice, however, as a press release noted, "McClain is not required to return to the team until he has an opportunity to meet with coach (Dennis) Allen."

Allen is in Texas at the funeral of his father, who died last week of cardiac arrest.

The Raiders coach said last Friday he didn't intend to speak with McClain until he returned. The coach and player reportedly had a "heated" argument at a Wednesday practice with Allen dismissing McClain from practice.

Omar Gaither has started for McClain during the two-game suspension.

McClain was demoted from the nickel defense earlier this season, retaining his starting position in the 4-3 base defense but coming off the field in passing situations with Phillip Wheeler taking over play-calling and rookie Miles Burris being the second linebacker on the field.

Due $4 million in salary next season with a cap number of $6.675 million, McClain, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft, would be unlikely to return unless the team considers him a fulltime player.

The Raiders also promoted cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, a fourth-round draft pick in 2011, from the practice squad.

To make room for McClain and Chekwa, the Raiders released cornerback Ron Bartell and fullback Owen Schmitt.

Bartell was signed in the offseason to be a starter after missing 15 games with a neck injury with the St. Louis Rams in 2011. He broke his shoulder blade in the season opener and did not return until Nov. 11 against the Baltimore Ravens after being placed on the "designated for return" injured reserve list.

Bartell had six starts, but was benched in favor of Phillip Adams in a 34-10 loss to Cleveland after giving up a 44-yard touchdown catch to Josh Gordon. Bartell re-entered the game after Adams had a concussion and all the defensive snaps in a 26-13 loss to Denver.

Adams returned from the concussion to play against Denver, had another interception, and is expected to assume Bartell's position as a starter opposite Michael Huff.

Schmitt, who played in 13 games with four starts as a blocking fullback and special teams player, was deemed expendable after the club signed Jamize Olawale last week off the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.
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