"I'm not worried about my past," McClain said as he prepares to try and fill Sean Lee's shoes.


IRVING — The Cowboys' search for help at linebacker has been ongoing ever since Sean Lee was lost for the season.

That's why Dallas acquired the rights to Rolando McClain on July 1 — the same day that Lee was placed on injured reserve.

With the season opener just five days away, McClain isn't ready to say what fans should expect.

"They're my expectations, so I don't have to reveal them," he said with a laugh.

McClain was a consensus All-American at Alabama, where he played three years for Nick Saban.

In 2010, Oakland made him the No. 8 overall pick. What followed were a number of arrests.

"It is what it is," McClain said in May 2012. "I can't really talk much about it. It will be resolved in the near future."

He even retired twice before the Cowboys acquired him from Baltimore.

Now he's trying to put all of that behind him.

"Honestly, I'm not worried about my past or the path," McClain said. "I'm happy to be here, delighted to play with the Cowboys. I think we've got a good group of guys here."

"I just like his story," said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Somewhere along the way, McClain seems to have had a change of heart. He said he's not a 20-year-old kid any more. He turned 25 in July and has two kids of his own.

At this point in his life, he simply wants to play football again.

"I think he's made a lot of progress," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "When you're a new player coming into a system, you have to play in that system. I think he's going to be part of that mix at linebacker, and I think he's demonstrated enough — both in practice and in preseason games — that he's worthy of some kind of opportunity."

"I'm just an overall better man," McClain said. "That makes me a better football player, a better boyfriend, a better father... so you've got to start with a base, man; get yourself right, and then fill in the blanks from there."

The Cowboys are hoping the void he fills is the spot left vacant by Sean Lee's absence.

"When the ball is snapped, the lights are on," McClain said. "It's live. Somebody is going to hit you, or you're going to hit somebody."

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