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Rookie DE Shea McClellin has been solid despite injuries

Julius Peppers (left) SheMcClellcombine sack Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. McClellhas 21/2 sacks as rookie. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Julius Peppers (left) and Shea McClellin combine to sack Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. McClellin has 21/2 sacks as a rookie. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 24, 2013 6:43AM



Who knows how good rookie defensive end Shea McClellin’s numbers would look if he hadn’t been slowed by injuries this season?

McClellin, though, tries not to think about that stuff.

‘‘You try to look past [the injuries],’’ McClellin said. ‘‘Just get ready and move on.’’

McClellin’s rookie campaign has been far from a disappointment. He has been solid, considering he has been part of a rotation and his injuries (concussion, knee).

McClellin, whom the Bears took with the 19th overall pick, has 21/2 sacks and two tackles for loss. He has shown good instincts, decent speed, athletic ability and the unrelenting motor that made him attractive to the Bears in the first place. Still, there are some feelings of dissatisfaction.

‘‘Any time you get injured, it’s definitely frustrating,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘As far as being a rookie, it hurts your development just being out a week. You get a little rusty.

‘‘[But] my goal coming in was just to get better each week. For the most part, I’ve done that.’’

Despite less playing time, McClellin’s numbers stack up well against those of other defensive ends taken in the first round. For instance, the Seattle Seahawks’ Bruce Irvin leads all rookies with eight sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, Irvin has 18 hurries in 387 snaps; McClellin has 18 hurries in 299 snaps.

The problem is, McClellin is no stranger to the injury report. He sat out Nov. 19 against the San Francisco 49ers with a concussion and last week against the Green Bay Packers with a knee injury.

‘‘I definitely feel better than I did last week,’’ said McClellin, who is listed as probable for Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. ‘‘It’s getting better each day.’’

The Bears’ defensive line has been banged up for weeks. But the team might have all its regulars against the Cardinals if Henry Melton (collarbone) is able to play.

‘‘It’s definitely important to get [us] back,’’ McClellin said. ‘‘You get your legs fresh, you get some rest and other guys can come on and step up and carry the flag for the plays that they’re in.’’

The Cardinals’ offensive line has allowed 52 sacks this season, so Sunday might turn into a field day for the Bears’ defensive front. McClellin also might get a chance to face former Boise State teammate and fellow rookie Nate Potter, who has started the last five games at left tackle for the Cardinals.

The Bears’ defense is planning to win the battle up front.

‘‘If it’s one-on-one, I feel good about that,’’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. ‘‘We have to go win our matchups. That’s the biggest thing.’’



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