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Bears to move Shea McClellin to linebacker

Mike Phair Defensive Line
Phair Rod Marinelli did good job with defensive line’s rotation. Corey WoottStephen Paeemerged as starters Henry Meltbecame

Mike Phair, Defensive Line Phair and Rod Marinelli did a good job with the defensive line’s rotation. Corey Wootton and Stephen Paea emerged as starters, Henry Melton became a Pro Bowl player and Shea McClellin made strides in his rookie season.

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Updated: February 20, 2014 2:39PM

INDIANAPOLIS — Shea McClellin will play either strong-side or middle linebacker next season, Bears coach Marc Trestman said Thursday.

So, somewhat surprisingly, will Jon Bostic.

“We know one thing in our second level: that Lance Briggs is gonna be our (weak-side) linebacker going in,” Trestman said at the NFL Combine. “Who’s going to be our (middle) and our (strong-side), we’re gonna move those guys around and we’ll see where we go in that regard.”

McClellin, the 2012 first-round draft pick who floundered in two years at defensive end, has been communicating with new linebackers coach Reggie Herring.

“He knows he’s gonna be a linebacker,” Trestman said. “He knows that we’re gonna work with him at the (strong-side) to start, but he should expect to work at both the (strong-side) and the (middle) position as he comes back.”

Trestman said Herring “thought (McClellin) had the ability and skillset to be a very good linebacker,” and the head coach agreed.

“I think Shea is really excited about it, the opportunity to get off the ball, to be able to run and do some things,” he said. “That doesn’t mean Shea won’t be a pass-rusher.

“But his skillset is speed.

“I’m really excited to see how this evolves with him, and most importantly, he’s excited about it.”

General manager Phil Emery said “it would be to our advantage to use players who have skills to rush the passer,” and McClellin, he said, was the team’s most productive pass-rusher last year.

“So we want to get him involved in that role, whether it’s from a linebacker alignment, from a two-point or a three-point (stance), or with games and moves and stunts,” Emery said. “His athleticism allows him to pressure the quarterback. We want to put him in position where he can make more plays overall.”

He could compete with Bostic at the strong-side spot, particularly if the Bears pursue a middle linebacker via free agency.

Trestman sounded as though the Bears were intrigued by bringing back veteran D.J. Williams, whose season was cut short by a torn pectoral muscle in his only season with the club. Bostic took his place, and played exclusively in the middle. He’ll learn the outside spot this season, too.

“D.J. Williams is a free agent; we know that. We don’t know where that’s going,” Trestman said. “That will be part of the process when we come back.

“But we expect Jon to be both a (middle linebacker), and have the ability to compete at the (strong-side) linebacker as well, and learn both positions.”

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