ALAMEDA -- Talking to reporters for the first time since the beginning of training camp, Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain said he feels healthy going into his third NFL season and that he has heard nothing about the possibility of a suspension from the league stemming from his off-the-field legal issues.
McClain, the Raiders' starting middle linebacker, was sentenced in May to 180 days in jail after being found guilty in municipal court in Alabama of third-degree assault, reckless endangerment, menacing and wrongful discharge of a firearm. He is appealing the conviction in circuit court and awaiting a jury trial.
"I don't think I've ever had a talk of anything about a suspension," McClain said Monday when asked if staying focused on the field has been a challenge during the preseason. "I haven't heard it. I guess it's all speculation."
Pressing matters on the field have included absorbing the Raiders' new defense and taking on more of a leadership role this season, which coaches have asked the 23-year-old McClain to do. The latter isn't an altogether new prospect to McClain, who said he "was a pretty good leader at Alabama in college," but admitted that the role is different in the NFL.
"You're not dealing with guys your age, you're dealing with grown men, and being a leader is not just about yelling," McClain said. "It's about understanding the guys that you're working with. Different people respond to different things in different ways. It's just figuring out your teammates and the way they respond to things to get them to work. So it's still a process, but I think for the most part everybody's just being accountable to the team and doing the right things on their own."
McClain said he feels good about the new defense introduced by head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.
"I think the Raiders have been so accustomed to just playing straight man, everybody knowing what we're going to be in," he said. "And now just being a little diverse, changing things up, I think it'll benefit us some. But at the same time offenses still game plan, they know eventually they'll see our pressures and they'll pick up on them. So it's just about executing the defense, whatever's called, no matter if it's a pressure or straight zone. You've just got to execute and play your rules, and what happens happens."
As for whether the defense is a better fit to his game, McClain said: "I don't know. I guess we'll find out Monday."
The Mobile Press-Register reported in April that McClain had undergone stem cell treatment after last season on his knee and ankle. McClain said it was mostly a precautionary move.
"I feel fine," McClain said. "The stem cell stuff was just so I wouldn't have these nagging injuries and they didn't prolong into the season. And right now I feel good going into the season. So we'll see."