Over the weekend, the Chicago Bears held one of their first full-contact workouts of the 2012 training camp in Bourbonnais. On Sunday, Bears' head coach Lovie Smith had the third and fourth string players don the full pads and equipment, and put them in a live, full-contact scrimmage.
Shea McClellin was among those participating, and let's just say the first round draft pick got hit with a huge dose of reality. While going up against the offensive linemen that were lower on the depth chart, McClellin got his official rookie wake up call.
The rookie from Boise State was pushed around, knocked down, pancaked and, at various times, just out right brutalized. One would assume that McClellin spent Monday's off-day in the hot tub to heal his wounds.
After yesterday's scrimmage there are some who question if McClellin can truly be an every down defensive end. And there are some who question if the Bears could have made a wiser decision on draft day.
When McClellin was drafted, some Bears fans shook their heads about the pick. Many, including myself, felt that Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones would have been a better pick. But the Bears opted to take McClellin.
There was the assumption that the Bears saw something that nobody else did. When the rookies had their mini-camp shortly afterwards, Bears' head coach Lovie Smith said that McClellin is ready and capable of being an every down defensive lineman.
While McClellin was listed as a defensive end in college, much of his highlight footage shows him blitzing from the outside or up the middle while lined up as a fourth linebacker. Some say that the Bears should just switch to a 3-4 defense to accommodate Shea McClellin. But I can tell you that the Bears don't plan on doing that anytime soon.
While I may not have agreed with the Bears' choice on draft day, I believe that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and defensive line coach Mike Phair will not give up on the rookie.
The Bears' coaches will do everything in their power to prepare Shea McClellin. There is a lot of money invested in McClellin, so he has no choice but to get better and prove to the critics that he can play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
It will be a long and hard season, so hopefully McClellin will get better as the summer progresses. The biggest test of course will be during the Bears' preseason opener on Thursday, August 9th.
The best advice I can give to McClellin right now is to suck it up, and get back at it.
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