The Ravens wouldn't have used a spot on the 53-man roster just to have him inactive Sunday. The real question is whether McClain starts in Pittsburgh. A player told me Friday that it was quite timely that McClain was able to come back on the same week that Josh Bynes, who replaced McClain in the starting lineup this year, was declared out with a finger infection.
McClain was a starter for the Ravens for the past three seasons and he had full practices all week. The concern is he hasn't played in a game since suffering a spinal-cord contusion 10 months ago.
My guess is the Ravens ease McClain back in a platoon situation. McClain can play on running downs, which is his strength, and rookie second-round pick Arthur Brown can replace him on passing situations.
If McClain can play more, that's a bonus for the Ravens. But the Ravens didn't rely on Bynes to play every snap on defense last Sunday. Bynes was on the field 55 plays (81 percent of the defensive snaps) and Brown was on the field for the other 19 percent.
There has never been a question about McClain's toughness. While growing up in Philadelphia, he spent a year in a homeless shelter with his mother and two sisters. He was also a boxer during his grade-school years.
That's why no one should be surprised that McClain overcame a possible career-threatening injury. But, before this week, I suspect few believed he would play a significant role in Sunday's game against the Steelers.