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Shea McClellin settles in at linebacker in first day of OTAs

Updated: June 29, 2014 6:40AM



It took two years for Shea McClellin to do his own impression of the caveman chart: from crouched with his hand on the ground as a rookie defensive end, to standing up at times to rush the passer last season, to becoming a full-time, stand-up linebacker Tuesday.

Wearing the iconic No. 50, McClellin started as the strong-side linebacker on the first day of organized team activities at Halas Hall.

He shifted inside, too, calling signals as the second-team middle linebacker.

“I think it’s what I should be doing,” he said of moving to linebacker, “and I’m very excited about it.”

McClellin was a linebacker in high school and at Boise State before being drafted in the first round two years ago.

“The instincts are there,” he said. “I’ve just got to learn the concepts, the coaches and things like that.”

That’s no small task, but McClellin seems more natural at linebacker than he did in two underwhelming seasons at end.

He wasn’t surprised when, after recording 4½ sacks last season, the Bears wanted him to shift positions.

“I was excited, for sure — anticipated that they would, too,” he said Tuesday, speaking for the first time since the change. “My first two years weren’t the greatest, but I think linebacker is a natural fit for me.”

A 12-week offseason workout regimen saw McClellin slim down from 18 percent body fat to 10. He wants to weigh between 245 and 250 pounds on game day.

Even if he looks the part, it will be difficult to judge McClellin’s place as long as veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams is not in attendance at voluntary OTAs. Jon Bostic, another strong-side candidate, played in the middle with the starters.

McClellin was diplomatic when asked about playing end for two years.

“As a player, you’re going to do what they tell you to, and I was fine with playing D-end,” he said. “They wanted me to rush the passer, and I think one of my strengths is rushing the passer.”

“For me, if I had to go to linebacker, I’d be cut — that’s not happening,” defensive end Jared Allen said. “I’m a one-position type of guy. The cool part is that [Mc-
Clellin] is athletic enough to do it.”

“Shea is an athlete,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “He’s smart. Just like anybody else, when you’re at something new, it’s going to take some time. You’ve got to keep working at it. But he’s fine. He’s going to do well. He’s a very transitional guy. He can play everywhere.”

The Bears will be ecstatic if he settles in at one spot.

‘‘I think I’ve got a lot to prove,” McClellin said.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @patrickfinley



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