But Upshaw arrived last month at training camp still several pounds above his target weight of 270 pounds. And after he sprained his right shoulder, which forced him to miss more than a week of practice and the preseason opener, he lost ground to second-year linebacker
Upshaw is still listed as the starting rush linebacker atop the semi-official depth chart on the team’s website, but McClellan has started both preseason games. In the 31-17 win over the
If the regular season were to start today -- yes, you and I both know it doesn’t -- McClellan and
"You've got to earn your stripes. You've got to earn your position, no matter what," Harbaugh said. "I don't know why a lot of people would think that. It's pretty presumptuous. The best guys play."
In last Thursday’s 27-12 preseason loss to the
Meanwhile, McClellan showed last season that he could produce while playing a variety of roles. Then an undrafted rookie from Marshall, he played in all 18 games, including playoffs, and led the Ravens with 11 special teams tackles in 2011. He was also a surprise starter against the
On Monday, reporters asked Harbaugh twice about McClellan. He praised the 26-year-old, saying that his worth ethic is "as good as anybody's" and that he is performing at a "really high level."
"You can probably describe Albert as a guy who is steady in all areas," Harbaugh said. "He's a good pass rusher. He's kind of a leverage rusher. He can bend the edge and get leverage underneath the offensive lineman. He's solid against the run. He sets the edge well. He does a nice job with his pass drops. He's a guy with no real weakness. I'd say he's plusses all across the board."
It sure sounds like McClellan’s roster spot is secure. He wasn’t a lock coming into camp, but he might just be the frontrunner to start in the season opener against the
Upshaw, who looked tentative at times in Monday's practice, will eventually play a significant role this season, too. The Ravens will need him to -- especially if Suggs doesn't suit up in 2012.