Bears' McClellin Is Versatile but Should Stay at DE & More NFC North News

Andrew Garda@andrew_gardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 02: Golden Tate #81 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown as Shea McClellin #99 of the Chicago Bears tries to tackle him on December 2, 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Chicago Bears 23-17 in overtime. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

Back in April, when the Bears drafted Shea McClellin as a defensive end, I remember saying the nice thing about the pick is, if all hell broke loose, he could step in at linebacker short-term.

That's not happening, but versatility in your players is something every general manager and coach wants, so it was worth noting at the time—even if he never takes a snap there.

Apparently, with Brian Urlacher out, that sort of speculation has ignited again.

Michael Wright at ESPN Chicago says as far as the Bears are concerned, it's just that—talk.

In the piece, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli pointed out a very critical angle to why it's unlikely he would do it—and perhaps even less likely he'd do it on a temporary basis.

While McClellin did play linebacker in college, the difference between linebacker in college and linebacker in the NFL can be, as Marinelli points out like "night and day."

I really have all the confidence in the world that McClellin could do it, but he'd need time. Time to acclimate to being a linebacker again, time to adjust to the NFL level at the position and time to absorb his responsibilities in the Bears' specific scheme.

When we talk about versatility in a player, it's easy to overlook that aspect of it.

It's one thing to point to a guy's athleticism and another for it to quickly translate to a position outside what he has played before. Sometimes the switch works, such as Charles Woodson to safety (although that has happened gradually anyway) and sometimes it doesn't work at all, as it hasn't with Devin Hester.

McClellin may have the athleticism to make the transition. He might even have the football acumen to transition smoothly.

By the time he did it though, the Bears might have been able to draft a traditional linebacker, already ready to go.

That's not a knock on McClellin. It's just reality.

On to the rest of the NFC North.


Chicago Bears

Wright has another great piece over at ESPN Chicago as well, this one about the challenges Nick Roach faces filling in for Brian Urlacher and how he struggled with it before.

Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times says the Bears effectively used a lot of short passes to beat Minnesota last time out.

By now you've heard about Commissioner Goodell's idea to eliminate kickoffs. According to the Tribune's Brad Biggs, it's not an idea flying well with the Bears special teams personnel. 


Detroit Lions

In Detroit, the idea of altering kickoff rules seems to be more accepted. According to Justin Rogers at, head coach Jim Schwartz says if the NFL changes the rule, it's only trying to protect its players.

Meanwhile, as it happens on many teams who have missed on high expectations, anonymous players on the team have started chirping about their fellow players, specifically Ndamukong Suh. Jason Cole has the story at Yahoo! Sports.

The Lions haven't been successful at Lambeau in a very long time according to Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.


Green Bay Packers

It looks like the Packers are aiming for a Week 15 return to action for Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, according to Tom Silverstein of the Journal-Sentinel. It makes a ton of sense—that game against the Bears is likely the most pivotal game left on the schedule.

Sarah Bishop of ESPN Wisconsin writes that DuJuan Harris, recently promoted from the taxi squad, has impressed his teammates already and could get an opportunity to impress everyone else soon.

Rob Demovsky of the Press-Gazette takes a closer look at an under-appreciated person on the Packers: the punter, Tim Masthay.


Minnesota Vikings

Mark Craig of the Star-Tribune says Adrian Peterson feels like nothing is out of his reach this season.

1500 ESPN's Judd Zulgad has a great interview with Vikings quarterback coach Craig Johnson about embattled starter Christian Ponder.

While Jared Allen has missed two straight days of practices, he's sure he will play against the Chicago Bears according to the Pioneer-Press' Jordan Shipley.


Check out the B/R NFC North Facebook page—like us and keep up with everything NFC North on Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter at @andrew_garda.