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.