Rookie DE Shea McClellin enjoys a good day
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org August 2, 2012 10:58PM
Bears defensive end Shea McClellin (99) works with teammates during training camp in Bourbonnais on Sunday. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
BEARS CAMP WATCH
Shea McClellin, who has struggled to make an impact — as expected of a rookie defensive end — made the defensive play of the day with a leaping interception of a Jason Campbell screen pass in 11-on-11. The play drew a huge response from fans at Olivet Nazarene, who save most of their enthusiasm for offensive plays. ‘‘I don’t really hear the crowd — that’s the weird thing,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘I’m tuned into what I’m doing, and I don’t hear it.’’ McClellin also looked better in pass-rushing drills, clearly beating starting left tackle J’Marcus Webb in a live-contact drill between mostly reserves.
Safety Brandon Hardin, who played cornerback in college, has a long way to go but seems to be progressing quickly. Hardin, a third-round pick from Oregon State, had reps at free safety against the first-team offense. ‘‘I think I’m getting it, slowly but surely,’’ the sturdy Hardin (6-3, 217) said. ‘‘Everything’s starting to click. I’m starting to get the playbook down. By the time we get the Broncos [next Thursday], I’ll have it all down.’’
Friday: 7 p.m. at Soldier Field
Saturday: No practice
Sunday: 2 p.m.
Monday: 2:30 p.m.
Thursday vs. Broncos 7:30
Aug. 18 vs. Redskins 7
Aug. 24 at Giants 7
Aug. 30 at Browns 6:30
The Bears open the season against the Colts at noon Sept. 9.
Updated: September 4, 2012 6:24AM
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.