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Mailbag: Rolando McClain Struggling? Best Combination At Safety/Nickel?

JUSTIN OSWALT

FARR WEST, UT
What is going on with Rolando McClain? He doesn't seem to be the same dominant player he was last year. He's flashed on a couple plays this year, but for the most part seems to be out of position or a step behind most of the time. Your thoughts?

Bryan: It is noticeable when your most physical defensive player is no longer playing that way. The best example for me was last week against the Eagles, when it was 4th-and-1 in overtime and he just allowed himself to be blocked. I never want to get in the head of a player, so I don't know what is going on there but I was sorely mistaken about the impact that he could have on this defense. I am sure there others in the front office that feel the same way.

David:I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses, but the best explanation I could possibly offer is that you're seeing the result of McClain missing the entire offseason. If you think back to 2014, he had been away from the game during his retirement, but he still went through a full training camp. This year, his first reps of the season came during Week 5 practices ahead of the New England game. He may be acclimating on the fly, and it's showing during the games.

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ERIK PLUMFALLS CHURCH, VA
Moving forward, is Byron Jones at FS and Patmon/Corey White at the nickel a better option than J.J./Heath at FS while Jones plays nickel?

Bryan: I like what you are saying about Jones at safety with Patmon and White at the nickel. I would even consider putting Jones down in the box or in that tight end coverage and playing White at free safety for Wilcox and Heath. It puts less liabilities on the field this way.

David:I still think Byron is too valuable covering opposing tight ends to completely remove him of those duties, but I agree with you for the most part. I don't know when it's going to happen, but it seems obvious that his future is as one of this team's full-time safeties. 

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