Jul 26, 2012; Bourbonnais, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin walks to the practice field during the opening day of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. Mandatory Credit: Bradley Leeb-US PRESSWIRE

Chicago Bears Rookie DE Shea McClellin Has "A Long Ways to Go"

Rookie first round draft pick Shea McClellin is quickly learning that he’s not in Boise any more.  Life for an NFL rookie is hard while life for a Chicago Bears first round draft pick on a defense that features four returning Pro Bowlers is damn near impossible.

McClellin is facing the typical ups and downs of any rookie early in camp.  There are good moments and there are very humbling moments.  After a couple of days in pads, the second year rookie was hard on himself:

“My pass rushing wasn’t very good, so I was kind of disappointed,” he said. “I’m pretty hard on myself, so I’ve got to do better than that.”

For my money, I’m glad the kid is putting a little pressure on himself; it shows me he cares. Based on what I saw coming across Twitter during Sunday’s practice, McClellin had a few rough moments.  In one sequence, undrafted free agent offensive lineman James Brown offered the rookie some all you can eat pancakes if you know what I mean.  In another sequence, McClellin would have notched a sack of 4th quarterback Matt Blanchard.  Too bad he beat a 5th string tight end to do it. This from ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson, following Saturday’s night first padded practice:

Without the benefit of watching the coaches film of the workout, McClellin looked as if he showed a good burst coming off the line of scrimmage during the majority of individual one-on-one passing rushing drills. However, he seemed to struggle on the occasions he found himself directly engaged with the offensive tackle. McClellin, who some project will be used as a situational pass-rusher early in his career, also appeared to have a few difficulties when participating in the more physical inside run drill.

Head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t sound too worried, but he wasn’t sugar coating the rookie’s performance either:

“He is going to earn his money based on what he does rushing the passer,” Smith said. “Got a long ways to go.”

The pressure that McClellin is feeling is self-inflicted.  With Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije pretty well set as the starting defensive ends, McClellin can come in as a rookie and do what he does best – rush the passer.  If he can do that successfully, he’ll earn playing time:

“The first thing is for a third end to show us they deserve reps and from there he will show us exactly how many he needs to get and in what situations,” Smith said. “Third ends, most of the time, guys want to come in and rush the passer. We hope we have that situation where we have another good pass rusher and we’re trying to figure out ways to get all of them reps.”

I know what a lot of you are thinking – another Chicago Bears first round bust.  I’m not panicking yet because from what I’ve seen, Phil Emery has done a good job stocking the cupboard.  I’m willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s see what the kid does when the lights are on and he’s in a real game before we label him a bust.

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  • John Mack

    I’m with you Boom! This was the 2nd practice in pads, boo hoo hoo that the rookie is feeling the growing pains of playing at the next level. This is what it’s all about, growth. McClellin knows this. We as the fans have to understand that the Devin Hesters, Javon Kearses and Red Daltons coming out of college and rising to even the bottom of the upper tier in their rookie campaign is the rarity. I expect McClellin to get better throughout these practices and to really shine as the season progresses. No need to panic. With a more potent offense this year, our defense will have the ability to play in ways it never did before and develop the right paths for core members. Good on you McClellin, take the lumps now.

    “Defeat is a school in which truth always grows strong”
    - Henry Ward Beecher

  • flowermike

    It’s early, I know, but why can’t the Bears ever pick a solid first rounder? One that is big enough to play the position or isn’t coming off injury? Carimi looked to be that, but if we pick a defensive end, why not pick a kid that is physically able to hold the position and start on a team that desperately needs to upgrade Idonije? Picking a tweener when you need a stud was very Angelo-esque. Reminds me of John Theirry, small school undersized guess of a pick.

    There were a lot of solid players on the board when we picked Shane. Desperate for O line IMMEDIATE help, Emery got cute and even though Boomer gave it his seal of approval, I kept thinking Angelo made the pick.

    Just pick solid guys who fit the physicality of their position, is that too much to ask?

    Jeffrey was the only pick in this class that fits that classic definition.