LINK to the article Bears top rookies make early strong impression
Nothing will be “official” until the film is reviewed but the Bears got the kind of collective performance from some of their rookies that they have craved from the top end of their draft classes.
Defensive end Shea McClellin
displayed the speed he’d demonstrated through training camp but supplemented it with moves and ball awareness that a number of NFL experts had expected once the rookie pass rusher was in game situations.
McClellin collected a pursuit sack of backup quarterback Caleb Hanie and delivered two other quarterback hits with spin and reaction moves against a good Denver offensive line. He also was credited with a tackle for loss among his three tackles.
“I thought Shea McClellin did some good things,” said coach Lovie Smith. “Anytime it’s your first time playing and you get a sack as a defensive lineman, you’ll remember that.”
Not all of the evening will be remembered fondly.
McClellin was buried on the Broncos’ short TD run in the second quarter and needs to be stronger at the point of attack. But he was a factor and pursued one third-quarter running play the entire width of the field to make the tackle.
“I wanted to showcase what kind of skills I really do have,” McClellin said. “But overall I have a lot to learn.” Alshon Jeffery
may have vaulted himself into the discussion for a starting job at wide receiver, or certainly more playing time at the very least. Jeffery caught both passes thrown to him in the first half with the excellent hands that led the Bears to make him their No. 2 draft choice.
Jeffery continued to produce as quarterback Josh McCown went to him for two more completions in the third quarter. Jeffery had 35 yards on his four catches (out of five balls thrown to him) and worked different areas of the field well, winning matchups against defensive backs with strength and body positioning.
“It felt good,” Jeffery said. “Just the speed of the game and adjusting to it, and getting to know and understand it. Everybody’s got a little pre-game jitters so it was a matter of really getting a real feel for the game.”
When Major Wright went down with a hamstring injury, Brandon Hardin
was pressed into service early and performed generally well, moving to free safety in a pairing with Craig Steltz.
“I would say I played like a rookie,” said Hardin, who was credited with one tackle and a pass defense. “Getting that first game under my belt was definitely good. From now on hopefully I’ll calm down more when I’m out there.”