PHOENIX — The Bears’ efforts to figure out a productive place for 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin will continue under a new regime.
On Wednesday, coach John Fox said that McClellin will start by working at inside linebacker in the Bears’ base 3-4 defense. McClellin figures to compete against Jon Bostic, Christian Jones and free-agent signing Mason Foster at inside linebacker
“We don’t really know,” Fox said during the NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL annual meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. “The biggest success I saw in him when he came out of Boise State was as a 3-4 outside backer.
“It hasn’t gone as well for him as far as position fit. In fairness to him, that’s not to be judgmental on anybody else, but I think the transition is we’re going to start him inside because it’s a harder position to learn as far as run fits and how they set in there. But he’ll be both.”
Under former general manager Phil Emery, the Bears initially tried McClellin as a typical 4-3 defensive end. It required McClellin to carry extra weight in his first two NFL seasons.
Last year, the Bears moved McClellin to strong-side linebacker. He started 10 of 12 games and recorded 84 tackles and one sack.
Fox seems to be a fan of McClellin’s potential. He gave an emphatic “yes” when asked if he liked McClellin coming out of Boise State in 2012. Fox was asked about other young players on the Bears’ roster and only cornerback Kyle Fuller received a similar response.
“We don’t really have a position per se for him,” Fox said. “A linebacker is a linebacker. So he’ll get the opportunity to compete at both. But more than likely, we’ll start him inside.”