Rookie DE Shea McClellin enjoys a good day BY MARK POTASH email@example.com August 2, 2012 10:58PM
BOURBONNAIS — Boise State rookie defensive end Shea McClellin’s head is spinning. But he can still make plays.
McClellin has been under intense scrutiny since the start of training camp at Olivet Nazarene, where even the smallest crowds for practices are double the population of his hometown of Marsing, Idaho (1,031).
Everything McClellin does is overanalyzed and magnified, especially his struggles in pass-rushing drills, where has been stymied at times by starter Gabe Carimi, rookie James Brown and even long-shot third-string tackle Tyler Hendrickson.
So for what it’s worth, McClellin had his best practice of training camp Thursday. He made a leaping interception of a Jason Campbell screen pass in 11-on-11 drills that elicited the biggest cheer from fans for a defensive play so far. And he won his share of pass-rush battles, including one against J’Marcus Webb in a live scrimmage between reserves that likely would’ve resulted in a sack in a real game.
‘‘I’ve been working on getting better every day, and I think I am so far,’’ said McClellin, the 19th overall pick. ‘‘I’ve got to keep grinding, keep learning from the older guys and coach [Rod] Marinelli and getting better every day.’’
McClellin admitted to being a little overwhelmed.
‘‘My head’s in all different directions because I’m getting advice from a lot of players and coaches,’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve just got to focus and do what they’re teaching me and home in on those things.’’
And the winner is ...
Either Webb has won the battle with Chris Williams for the starting job at left tackle or the Bears have revolutionized the concept of the NFL position battle.
Webb took all the first-team reps at left tackle for the third consecutive practice, while Williams rotated with Carimi with the first team and took second-team reps at right tackle.
Coach Lovie Smith said all his tackles are outstanding in their own way.
‘‘We like what [Webb] is doing,’’ Smith said. ‘‘J’Marcus is getting better like the rest of our guys.’’
Urlacher, Hester out
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who sat out Wednesday’s practice with soreness in the left knee he injured at the end of last season, missed most of Thursday’s practice.
Wide receiver/kick returner Devin Hester ‘‘was excused’’ from practice, Smith said. Wide receiver Eric Weems missed his second consecutive practice with a leg injury.
The Bears will practice at 7 p.m. Friday at Soldier Field in their annual ‘‘Family Fest.’’ Tickets are $8 per person. Fans attending the event are advised to arrive early because of traffic congestion downtown.
Activities outside Soldier Field, which include a live band, begin at 4 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. A fireworks display is scheduled after practice.
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears rookie defensive end Shea McClellin provided Thursday glimpses of why the organization was so high on him in the draft.
[+] Enlarge AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhLovie Smith likes the progress he's seeing from rookie Shea McClellin.
McClellin’s reviews, especially when he’s been engaged with offensive linemen, have been mostly subpar through the early goings of training camp. On Thursday, he struggled again early in practice, but he progressed as the afternoon wore on and displayed elite athleticism and speed on a number of plays.
McClellin caught everyone’s eye when he leaped and intercepted a screen pass from quarterback Jason Campbell at the line of scrimmage. His teammates hi-fived him, and the fans loudly cheered him, even if he didn’t hear them.
“You know what I don’t hear the crowd,” said McClellin, who was drafted out of Boise State as the No. 19 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. “That’s the weird thing. I’m tuned into what I’m doing there.
“I just saw the quarterback dropping back, so I was going for an inside rush. I saw him dropping back further, so I kind of stopped and just waited for him to throw it. Luckily, it was right in my hands, I guess.”
Bears coach Lovie Smith was among those impressed, but he also has high expectation for McClellin. Smith believes it’s just too early to make judgments.
“I like his progress,” Smith said. “(The interception) was impressive, but he can make a play like that. When you’re a first-round draft pick coming in, there’s a lot of pressure on you to be all-pro right away. It takes time. But he has great quickness and speed. He works hard, good athletic ability. Nothing can stop him from being a really good football player.”
McClellin admitted Thursday he has felt a bit overwhelmed.
“My head’s in all different directions because I’m getting advice from players, the coaches,” McClellin said. “I just got to focus in and do what they’re teaching me and hone in on those things.”
McClellin appeared locked in when the Bears allowed full contact during the final portion of Thursday’s practice. He got off the line quickly, was able to often avoid his blocker and get into the backfield on a handful of plays.
McClellin sensed he was making progress late into practice, but he was far from patting himself on the back.
“Towards the end, I felt like I did better than normal,” McClellin said. “Early on, I felt like I had cement legs. I have to work past that. Overall, I think it was all right.
“I think I’ve been working on getting better every day. I think I am so far. Just I got to keep grinding and keep learning from the older guys and coach (Rod) Marinelli and get better every day.”
I'm glad to hear that he did so well on Thursday. Maybe it was just his needing to get more acclimated to the speed of things in the NFL or something like that. He's got too much talent to simply be a bust or a player who, as a 1st Rounder, struggles through his first season to the point where he plays consistently poor.
On another note, it looks like Webb is going to win the LT position. I hope for Lovie's and Tice's sake it's because he truly is head and shoulders above Chris Williams at that position. I can't help but be reminded of the old line that goes like this: "A leopard never sheds its spots." Webb isn't the brightest star in the sky, and after three summers of basically being handed the job in camp, he should be getting a clue finally.
All this is to be expected from a guy that hasn't been in the spotlight like this before. I still don't know if he is answer or not, but any of his bad practices to this point should really be taken with a grain of salt. They don't mean much. How he performs during the first half of the season should be a good indicator as to his potential
This is the second article that made mention of soreness in urlachers knee from last years injury. I am worried about this. If having the summer off has not helped it, his participating in the football season is sure not going to help it get better. I'm wondering how well Urlacher might perform this year. He may not be ready yet.
I dislike thinking about Urlacher's knee. I know it is the time of being overly optimistic, but the games will have to be played. I would not think the Bears are in any hurry to re-sign. Something likely to be revisited after this season.