After a Sunday break, our season preview series returns, as we take a look at a position that it lighter on numbers, but still has a huge impact on an offense. Most teams carry two fullbacks, and the Ravens should be no different this season, with one perennial Pro Bowler and one undrafted free agent who’s playing fullback for the first time in his football career.
Read on for the full positional preview.
New players: Mike McLaughlin (Undrafted, Boston College)
Starter: Le’Ron McClain, 6’0″, 260 pounds, 4th year in NFL
Le’Ron McClain’s nickname is “Bring The Pain”, and saying he does anything less would be a slight against McClain’s ability. The Alabama product has to be considered one of the NFL’s elite fullbacks, as he combines the three things a great fullback needs perfectly. He can block well, he runs even better, and he can catch the football well, and make plays downfield after he catches it. A fourth round selection by the team in 2007, McClain has arguably been one of the best finds in the 2007 class.
Starting 11 games in 2007 as Willis McGahee’s lead blocker, McClain blew up in 2008, with 902 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns and 123 additional yards receiving. More than anything, McClain was as reliable as you can get during his ’08 campaign, always being ready and able to convert a short-yardage opportunity into a first down. With the emergence of Ray Rice last season, McGahee took a back seat in the rushing game, only accumulating 46 carries as opposed to his 232 in 2008. McClain still made his presence felt in the passing game, racking up 21 receptions for 141 yards. The part of McClain’s game that is the most important, however, is his blocking. You’ll routinely see McClain smashing linebackers onto their backs as he lead blocks for Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.
The Backup: Mike McLaughlin-
While we do see it often, it seems like the Ravens have tried to take on more “project players” than usual this season. McLaughlin is a prime example of this, as he’s being given the “Edgar Jones Treatment”, in that he’s being forced to play a completely new position. Jones was a linebacker at Southwest Missouri State and throughout his football career, but was converted to a tight end when the Ravens signed him. McLaughlin was an all-ACC linebacker at Boston College, but seeing his hard-hitting, determined style, the Ravens decided to make him a fullback.
It might have been because he was an eager rookie, his work ethic, or a little bit of both, but the former linebacker was one of the most motivated and intense players during training camp, hustling all the time and making plays in scrimmages.Regardless, he impressed the EbonyBird.com staff this August. While you shouldn’t expect to see McLaughlin doing much other than special teams this season, it’s highly likely that he’ll step in as starter in case of an injury. While he may not be very polished, his athletic ability and versatility should help him out. Just for a little taste of McLaughlin, here’s a little video you may have seen before….The cool part happens about 11 seconds in.
That’s all for the fullbacks. Wide receivers are tomorrow.