Special-teams work generally is placed in the middle of practice. The vast majority of players leave their position groups and go under the direction of coordinator Dave Toub for punt and punt return, and kickoff and kickoff returns.
Quarterbacks, most wide receivers and running backs, and various veterans like a Lance Briggs or Brian Urlacher are excused if they are not on any of the phases.
Rookies are pretty much all in. Except one.
Normally a 260-pound rookie defensive end, particularly one with speed, finds himself covering kicks. Its how Israel Idonije first distinguished himself.
But McClellin was taken down instead to spend some one-on-one time with coordinator Rod Marinelli. He might have preferred running gassers as part of kick coverage.
Marinelli donned long blue arm pads, the kinds of things you put on if youre dealing with the business end of a Doberman, and stood facing McClellin in a form of speed-reaction drill.
Marinelli raises an arm, McClellin knocks it down. Marinelli reaches with an arm, McClellin parries it.
Then Marinelli went illegal, throwing in arms to the face, pushing McCellin in the facemask, and delivering an occasional roundhouse swing.
McClellin started getting mad. That was part of the idea.
He was getting me a little bit, McClellin said, laughing. He was trying to upset me. I wasnt sure what he was doing. He was hitting me in the face and I wasnt sure what I was doing exactly. A couple of times I was stepping backwards and he really got me bad.
He was trying to get my confidence down with some of those things but it was all good. He was honing in on my technique and youre a little tired, a little frustrated, and thats when your technique is most important and also when it can slip.
Marinelli was seeing what he wanted to see.
Good solid work, a lot of the movement we felt that he had, Marinelli said. His work habits are very good, so just learn a little of what were doing, the tempos good. Good solid work.