Le’Ron “Pain Train” McClain has been openly campaigning on his Twitter account recently. No, it has nothing to do with the upcoming mid-term elections, but rather with where exactly he will be lining up in the Ravens’ backfield as the “real” election races start to heat up this fall.
McClain has expressed some frustration that his touches decreased so dramatically from 2008 to 2009, due to the emergence of budding superstar Ray Rice. What had been a “3-headed monster” during John Harbaugh, Cam Cameron, and Joe Flacco’s rookie seasons in Baltimore turned into predominantly the Mighty Mouse show last year. As we can see below, McClain’s number of carries dramatically dropped off in 2009, while Rice’s increased substantially, and Willis McGahee’s dropped off just a bit:
If you follow Le’Ron on Twitter, you know that he says some goofy stuff. “CHURRRRCH!,” “SHOUT OUT TO GYM!!,” and “MAYTRIXXXX,” have been some recent favorites of #33, but lately “MCCLAIN 4 RB” has been his constant mantra. So is it all a joke, or is he really bugging the coaches for some more carries?
A little of both, actually.
From an article yesterday on BaltimoreRavens.com:
“[It’s] me just wanting to get back to where I was my second year,” McClain said before breaking into laughter. “I just thought it would be funny to start it up, so I just started it.
“I’m going to get a few folks to go around and put some stuff on cars and have a few [posters] up on some poles, you know: ‘McClain For Running Back.'”
Behind the laughter, there is some substance to the message. McClain would like to get a long-term contract and get more carries after he went from 232 carries for 902 yards in 2008 to 46 for 180 in 2009.
McClain said the role change was “frustrating sometimes,” but that he’s a team player who takes his blocking duties seriously. He also made it clear that he’s not out to replace Ray Rice as the starter.
Like many Ravens fans out there, I was calling for a bit more of the 3-man backfield last season as well. Late in games, McClain can be a valuable weapon for this offense, helping to grind out the clock as weary defenders shy away from tackling the 260 LB ballcarrier.
However, in 2010, with the addition of guys like Donte’ Stallworth and Anquan Boldin to the passing game, there may be even fewer carries to go around in the purple backfield. While Cam Cameron insists to us that the Ravens will still be a running team, most outsiders agree that the Ravens’ offense has the potential to be the most balanced it has ever been this year.
Which isn’t to say that there’s not a place for a bruising running back like McClain within that balanced attack. He’ll be a valuable asset to the team, whether blocking or carrying the ball, but barring injury, his days as “THE RB” in B’More are likely over.
And that’s a little bit of a shame, because this:
was damn sure fun.