BOURBONNAIS, Ill. Shea McClellin already is starting to look a little like Julius Peppers. The rookie No. 1 pick has settled on the same shoe model as the perennial All-Pro.
If you want to be the best, youve got to dress like the best, McClellin said, laughing. Hes a good leader and I look up to him and Izzy so when theyre out there, Im watching them and trying to learn from them.
McClellins learning curve accelerated upwards on Saturday night as the Bears practiced in full uniform and pads for the first time. McClellin acquitted himself well in one-on-one pass rush drills, then delivered two pass breakups in live team sessions, the latter coming deep downfield as he was dropped from his defensive end spot into coverage.
I should have caught that second one, he lamented. Had my hands close and got a finger on it.
The play was perhaps more remarkable because coaches loaded the rookie up with work at both and right and left ends with the No. 2 defense, his first time with the 2s, in addition to his full load with the No. 3 unit.
When we get pads on, the coaches want to see how physical and what we can do when were tired, McClellin said.
McClellin was thoroughly handled by reserve tight end Kyle Adams in an early run play. He showed good speed in getting an edge on left tackle JMarcus Webb in one pass-protection rep; he read a play-action fake by Jay Cutler and brought pressure to force the play; and he worked well on both the right and the left side against tackles James Brown and Chris Williams.
Exactly how he grades out, however, will have to wait until Sunday.
I havent had a chance to watch the video yet, said coach Lovie Smith. Well get a chance to evaluate him and go from there. But our play is to have him part of our rotation.
We'd been circling this news all week, and now it's getting closer to reality: late Saturday night, Adam Schefter reported that QB Mitch Trubisky will be under center for the Bears' matchup with the Saints this Sunday:
Trubisky was a full participant in practice from Wednesday to Friday of last week, but had still been listed as questionable up to this point. He returns after dislocating his left shoulder in Week 4 against the Vikings and missing the team's Week 5 loss to the Raiders.
The news comes at a crucial juncture of the season for the Bears, who are currently 3-2 and in third place in the NFC North.
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The Bulls waived Milton Doyle, Justin Simon and Simisola Shittu Saturday, which is minor news since they were mostly camp bodies competing for possibly a two-way contract.
The bigger development is that the Bulls’ roster is basically set, pending the signing of one player to the second two-way contract still available. No Iman Shumpert. No Alfonzo McKinnie. And that’s just naming two hometown products recently linked to the Bulls via the rumor mill.
The Bulls still want to see what they have in Chandler Hutchison, who did some individual shooting Saturday but missed all training camp with a hamstring injury. Denzel Valentine, currently out of the rotation, is staying ready.
And Shaq Harrison, who missed all five preseason games with his own hamstring injury but now is fully practicing, remains a Jim Boylen favorite.
And that’s what the roster staying set for now is about as much as anything. The buy-in Boylen has received from players dating to voluntary September workouts and bonds that have formed could be disrupted by the waiving of someone like Harrison, whose contract isn’t fully guaranteed but his commitment is.
While the Bulls recognize proven wing depth is a question mark, they value Harrison’s toughness and defensive ability. If Hutchison or Harrison or Valentine---if he gets an opportunity---don’t produce, perhaps a move could be made at a later date.
But expect only the signing of a second player to a two-way contract to join Adam Mokoka for now.
“We’ve been talking about that,” Boylen said. “We’re working on that. We’ve got our list and have reached out to some people. We’re actively in process.”
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