A seventh-round selection of the Panthers in the 2010 NFL Draft, the path to become a starting cornerback in the NFL hasn't been a conventional one for Robert McClain. In fact, it would've been hard to predict for McClain himself after a 2011 season in which he wasn't able to make an active roster for a single game.
After impressing in training camp, McClain earned a spot on the Falcons final roster, but injuries to Brent Grimes and Chris Owens forced the journeyman cornerback into a starting role, and he hasn't disappointed. McClain told Daniel Cox of Falcons.com that he was prepared for the chance when it came:
"The coaches always tell you to prepare because anyone can go down," McClain said. "What happened is unfortunate to Brent Grimes, but it gave me the opportunity to go out there and show the coaches what I can do in actual game situations."
What he's done in actual game situations is become a very reliable cornerback for the Falcons in either a starting or nickel role. He's recorded five pass breakups, and in the first quarter of the Week 2 game against the Broncos, he recorded his first-career interception, as he pulled down a Peyton Manning pass and returned it 32 yards to set up the Falcons offense.