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Bears trust in Shea McClellin’s instincts at linebacker

BOURBONNAIS — Bears linebackers coach Reggie Herring can sense the impatience, if not the doubt, Bears fans have about Shea McClellin’s transition to linebacker.

‘‘Shea’s shown enough out there that I believe he has linebacker instincts. I think he’s going to be fine,’’ Herring said Monday. ‘‘He’s committed. He works hard. And there are times when he moves better than all of [the other linebackers] — change of direction, instincts, breaking on the ball.

‘‘It’s a process. Y’all be patient. We’ll know after the first [or] second game where we’re at with him. But right now, he’s right on schedule. He needs more plays, more games, more at-bats, and I really believe he’ll be a solid player for us. That’s my prediction.’’

In his first professional game at linebacker, McClellin played 29 snaps and had two tackles in the Bears’ 34-28 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in their preseason opener Friday.

But the Bears aren’t about to quibble over numbers or even performance.

‘‘It’s too early. Just too early,’’ Herring said. ‘‘One game won’t make or break you. It’s the overall body of work. We had to get Shea’s feet wet, see how he responded playing linebacker for the first time in three years.

‘‘For the most part, he blended in. He’s got to put himself in better position to make some tackles. But those are things that come with experience — adjusting on angles. His effort’s been great, and he’s had a great camp overall.’’

McClellin was typically low-key in assessing his first game at linebacker.

‘‘I felt good,’’ he said. ‘‘I felt comfortable. It was a start. I’ve got to work on some things. For the most part, [it was] good. Just got to build from here and continue to get better.’’

The Bears are hopeful that McClellin’s instincts at linebacker will take over.

‘‘He’s working at it,’’ defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said. ‘‘We see him do it in practice. He looks very instinctive in practice, and we saw him make sudden movements and quick decisions in the game. He’s already doing that to a certain extent. We just have to work to get better.’’

While many eyes are on McClellin, the Bears were looking at other things.

‘‘It was good to see Lance [Briggs] step up [and] be physical on some tackles because of the shoulder situation,’’ Herring said, referring to the injury that forced Briggs to miss seven games last season. ‘‘We weren’t sure about that, and he wasn’t sure.’’

Herring said he has been encouraged by the progress of rookies Christian Jones and DeDe Franklin and third-year pro Jerry Franklin.

‘‘We’ve got some young guys who have shown us they want to be part of this team — Khaseem Greene being one that really sticks out,’’ Herring said. ‘‘Khaseem is doing some really good things to show he is committed to being a good football player, and he’s showing improvement ­every day.’’

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkPotash



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