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Bears defensive end Shea McClellin gets bigger, hopes for bigger role

Updated: April 17, 2013 11:46PM

No one asked defensive end Shea McClellin to do it, but after last season, he had a pretty good notion of what he needed for his second NFL season.

“I knew I had to get bigger,” McClellin said Wednesday after the second day of voluntary minicamp at the Walter Payton Center.

So he added about five to seven pounds and weighs 258. McClellin also said he focused on “trying to get quicker and faster. Working on hands [and] everything in the pass rush.”

“For me, Year 2, I need to take a big step,” he said.

It’s still too early to tell if new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has anything special in store for McClellin, the Bears’ first-round pick in 2012 who was singled out by general manager Phil Emery for having the versatility he looks for in prospects.

Emery and Co. are hoping that McClellin, who has been working with the first-team defense in minicamp, takes the next step and becomes a full-time contributor. McClellin was used in a variety of ways last season but said he’s solely a defensive end right now.

Tucker said everything has been “all positive” for McClellin.

“He’s athletic, he’s got pass-rush ability and he’s very conscientious about getting better each and every day,” Tucker said. “That’s what I was told about him, and that’s what I saw on tape and see here on the practice field. So I’m very encouraged.’’

Is he a three-down player?

“He’ll get what he earns,” Tucker said.

Fighting for a spot

Safety Tom Zbikowski finds himself in an adjustment period, going from 3-4 defensive teams in the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts to a 4-3 base team.

“If you know football, you can adapt and pick up the new things,” the Notre Dame product and Buffalo Grove grad said. “It definitely is schematically quite different from running 3-4 for so many years and now coming into a 4-3 defense. But we’ve got good coaches here, good players here to learn from and pick up as much as I can every day.”

Of course, Zbikowski knows there’s no guarantee he’ll make the Bears, especially with safeties Craig Steltz, Anthony Walters and Brandon Hardin already here to back up starters Chris Conte and Major Wright.

“As of right now, I’m just trying to make a ballclub, come to this minicamp, next minicamp, training camp and take it from there,” he said.

Coach Marc Trestman said he doesn’t know what he has in Zbikowski quite yet, but he’s encouraged.

“I’ve seen him play very well,” Trestman said. “He’s worked very hard like the other guys the last two days.

‘‘He’s running to the ball. He’s very enthusiastic, certainly, about being here. So that’s all I could tell after two days.”

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