Bears notebook: Shea McClellin staying at defensive end despite Urlacher injury
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com December 6, 2012 10:10PM
Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin (99) returns to the field at halftime on Monday, October 22, 2012 in at Soldier Field. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 8, 2013 6:28AM
The Bears have used rookie defensive end Shea McClellin in a variety of ways, but don’t expect to see him at linebacker this week against the Vikings in Minneapolis. If the Bears have something in the works, they aren’t discussing it.
“They want me to play defensive end, and that’s what I’m focusing on,” McClellin said. “That’s what I’m going to do and not worry about another position.”
It long has been thought that McClellin would make the transition to linebacker, possibly as an eventual replacement for Brian Urlacher.
The Bears have dropped him into pass coverage, and just last week he was used to ‘‘spy’’ Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
“We’re not a 3-4 [defense], but he’s athletic enough to drop back and do all those things,” linebacker Lance Briggs said. “But, no, we’re using him the right way. Our game plan and the way we run our defense is effective enough. You don’t have to go out and do a bunch of extra things. If we just go out and play our solid defense, we’ll be fine.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli also said it’s too late to truly switch McClellin after he has spent the entire season at defensive end. With Urlacher out, Nick Roach will move to the middle, and Geno Hayes takes over on the strong side.
“It would be like night and day,” Marinelli said. “We’ve got our guys, and we’ve just got to go with them right now.”
Man in the middle
Roach said he feels more prepared to handle the calls and checks at middle linebacker. But he’s expecting Urlacher to be around to help on the sideline.
“I feel good,” Roach said. “I wish that Brian was in there, obviously. It’s unfortunate to see him go down. But I’ve been prepared for it for a while. Brian, he’s really good about being there and saying, ‘Hey, if you see this, be alert for something like that.’ ”
Coach Lovie Smith said that cornerback Tim Jennings hasn’t been ruled out with his right shoulder injury. But he still missed practice, and all signs point to Kelvin Hayden starting at cornerback.
“[Hayden] understands the system,” Marinelli said. “He’s a good player. It’s his chance to step up and really go. He started in the Super Bowl. He’s going to do fine.”
◆ Receivers Devin Hester (concussion) and Alshon Jeffery (knee) continued to practice on a limited basis. Earl Bennett, as expected, was officially ruled out for Sunday with a concussion.
◆ Defensive tackle Stephen Paea (foot) returned to practice, but running back Michael Bush sat out a second consecutive day with bruised ribs. “Bush is making progress,” Smith said.
◆ Vikings defensive end Jared Allen missed his second day of practice with shoulder/back injuries.
◆ Urlacher was fined $21,000 for his horse-collar tackle of Seahawks running back Leon Washington. He’ll appeal the fine.