Bears' McClellin knows he has a lot to prove

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 28, 2012
Shea McClellin knows he has a lot to prove after being drafted 19th overall by the Chicago Bears. However, the defensive end-linebacker says his health is not one of those issues. An NFL Network report had said McClellin had three concussions while playing at Boise State. ''It did bother me a little bit,'' McClellin said Friday. ''I don't know where the reports came from. I had one concussion in 2010. I didn't miss a game. I missed one practice; they kept me out. In 2009, it wasn't really a concussion. I had concussion-like symptoms, but I was sick before that. It was more precautionary, and it wasn't really a concussion.'' In essence, McClellin said he had only one actual concussion. ''I changed my helmet up this last year and I haven't had a problem since,'' he said. ''So I'm good to go; no worries for me.'' McClellin knows he'll have to live up to the faith the Bears put in him by selecting him over other better-known top defensive ends such as national sacks leader Whitney Mercilus of Illinois and Syracuse's Chandler Jones. ''To all the doubters, I'm going to have to go out there and prove myself,'' McClellin said Friday when he came to Halas Hall for the first time. ''I'm used to that. I came from Boise State. We had to prove ourselves every week.'' With 20 1/2 sacks and 33 tackles for loss through his four-year Boise State career, McClellin had good numbers. However, the fact he played at Boise State as opposed to a larger school was just one factor keeping his draft stock from going higher. A perceived lack of great size, at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, and the fact he was considered a 3-4 linebacker by some teams rather than an end in the 4-3 defensive style the Bears play also led to questions about why Chicago would want him at No. 19. ''It definitely puts a chip on my shoulder,'' McClellin said. McClellin sought to put the Boise State issue immediately to rest. ''I mean, there's teams we played against - Virginia Tech, they were a great team and Georgia was a good team this year,'' he said. ''I think a lot of the teams we played were highly underrated. Even though we came from a small conference, there's good players on the teams and just look at us. We have potentially eight or nine guys that will get drafted this year.'' Boise State let McClellin dabble at many positions on defense not because he struggled at any but because he seemed to handle each with ease. McClellin played at middle linebacker and moved to pass rush end in passing situations. He sometimes played a hybrid position, a sort of safety-linebacker. ''I guess I didn't have the stats compared to other guys, but if you look at my stats I only averaged 35 plays a game compared to other guys getting 60, 70 - and they're rushing the passer every down,'' McClellin said. ''I was in coverage. I was doing all kinds of things. So it's hard to compare.'' Emery saw a defensive end through all of that, and McClellin agrees. ''I really think I can be effective, hand in the dirt, standing up, whatever a team wants me to play and needs me to play,'' he said. Green Bay and New England, two 3-4 defensive teams, had interest in McClellin if he fell to them. Although they wanted a linebacker, McClellin said the ultimate task is the same. ''I think they wanted me to rush the quarterback, as well,'' he said. ''I think that's what I'm best at, so I think any team that was looking at me wanted me to play that rush kind of end or linebacker or whatever.'' McClellin said his weight isn't a problem at 260 and he has played as heavy as 270. He compared his style of play to former Steelers-Patriots-Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel, who played 14 seasons. ''I think Mike Vrabel just because of his versatility,'' he said. ''I'm able to play multiple positions, people like Brooks Reed (Houston Texans), just the way he plays, you know, his high motor, that kind of thing. ''As far as ends go, someone like (Minnesota's) Jared Allen, I think. He plays hard and that's the way I like to play.'' McClellin's biggest adjustment may not be to a position, but from growing up on a farm and playing at Boise State to playing in Chicago. McClellin has already been in touch through text messages with former teammate Winston Venable, a Bears' safety, and with his new team's offensive leader, Jay Cutler. ''There's always some little adjustments,'' he said.
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