Middle linebacker Rolando McClain is a rookie by definition. However, one would be hard-pressed to distinguish between McClain and a five-year veteran based on his play throughout training camp, according to coach Tom Cable.
"Away from the field you would (be able to tell)," Cable said. "But out here, no. I see a lot of things that make you think he's a lot more mature beyond his age in terms of being a football player."
McClain draws raves from coaches and players alike for his ability to react to plays that tend to confuse ordinary rookies.
He is quick to decipher whether the play is a run or pass. He recognizes his responsibility on every play. And he has the confidence to instruct older, more experienced players where to line up.
"He's very well-schooled," Cable said. "When he came here, he's got an understanding of the game that is unique. But the most impressive thing has been -- since we drafted him, through minicamp and OTA -- his retention, his ability from day one to get us lined up and adjusted. He has a great feel for that. He just naturally has control."
Third-year linebacker Trevor Scott said he is impressed with McClain's seamless transition from college to NFL starter.
"He's definitely a put-up-or-shut-up type of guy," Scott said. "He came into a new environment, going from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and a whole new position playing 'Mike' (middle) linebacker, the leader of the defense, being a rookie and having all these vets trying to get the calls from him. He's taken it in stride. For him to come in and be the leader of the defense is pretty tremendous."
McClain recorded two tackles in his NFL debut against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. He didn't stand out, by any means, but he also didn't do anything that gave away his youth and inexperience.
"He did fine," Cable said. "He ran the defense like you want him to. He ran to the ball, was in on a number of plays, so you could say it was a success his first time out."
Frye has been unable to throw a football since he suffered the injury Aug. 5. Several tests revealed no obvious damage, but his wrist isn't showing any signs of improvement.
Parents, siblings and children watched the two-hour practice, and then retreated to umbrella-covered tables for some quality time with loved ones who have been isolated in Napa since July 27.
Fullback Luke Lawton (concussion) returned to practice, as did rookie wide receiver Jacoby Ford (quadriceps). Lawton had been out since Aug. 4.
Cable said that Frye, McFadden and receiver Paul Hubbard (hamstring) are the only three players who are questionable for Saturday's game against the Chicago Bears.