Linebacker Lance Briggs provided the sound bite of the week when he said the Bears’ defense found success against the Green Bay Packers last year at Lambeau Field because “Shea took out Aaron Rodgers.”
Briggs was just being honest. Shea McClellin’s collarbone-breaking sack of Rodgers was clearly the turning point in the Bears’ 27-20 victory. But McClellin’s responsibilities have changed this season. His opportunities to chase down Rodgers and other quarterbacks have dwindled. He’s a linebacker now.
“That’s one thing I do miss is rushing the passer,” the former defensive end said Thursday. “But you know, whatever they want me to do, rushing the passer less [or] dropping more into coverage, I’m happy to do it. I’m not going to complain about anything. I just want to be on the field to be honest.”
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said before the season he planned to use McClellin as a pass rusher and in blitzes. But, according to Pro Football Focus’ reviews, McClellin has had only had 14 pass rush snaps this season. In Week 2,McClellin did rush and sack San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during his best game this season.
Tucker, though, might want to consider using McClellin as a pass rusher on Sunday night. Of McClellin’s 7 1/2 career sacks, 4 ½ of them have come against the Packers.
“It’s just something that kind of happened,” McClellin said of his success against Green Bay.
McClellin is set to start his third consecutive game at strong-side linebacker after missing four games with a broken hand. He said his injury didn’t hinder his learning process at the position.
“I don’t think it was mentality of getting back into things,” McClellin said. “While I was out, I tried to be a student of the game and stay mentally in it. Getting back into it, I think it was fine.”
Mills ready for tackle
While coach Marc Trestman won’t reveal the results of the Bears’ offensive line juggling until Friday, Jordan Mills said he anticipates starting at his familiar right tackle position.
Mills and Michael Ola have played both left guard and right tackle this week as the Bears seek a replacement for Matt Slauson, who is lost for the season with a torn right pectoral muscle. Backup center Brian de la Puente has played guard this week, too.
Mills said it may “take a couple more practices” for him to feel even more comfortable at guard.
“When you go to the new position that you haven’t played or necessarily repped a lot, it’s kind of hard,” he said. “When you go back to the old position, it’s fine. You have to get out of that mindset you were in before — it’s a little bit quicker than the last mindset [at tackle].
“But once I got used to being at guard throughout practice, it was fine.”
The injury report
The Packers are possibly looking at missing two starters on their offensive line. Guards T.J. Lang (ankle) and Josh Sitton (toe) missed their second consecutive practice.
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett (ribs) was limited in practice, but he’s expected to play on Sunday.
Contributing: Patrick Finley