- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Shea McClellin looked noticeably leaner on Thursday compared to the early in the offseason when he admitted to gaining five to seven pounds at the team’s request. McClellin was listed as 260 pounds last season, although his actual playing weight was likely below that mark.
“I cut down a lot of fat so I’m feeling good right now,” McClellin said following the Bears’ mandatory conditioning test. “I’m not weighing as much but that was a lot of fat that I put on, I mean not a lot of fat, but some fat. So I’m down about three-percent body fat and I’m really happy right now.”
McClellin showed some occasional bursts as a rookie (2.5 sacks, 2 tackles-for-loss) but will be counted on to assume a larger role this season, especially with the offseason departure of veteran defensive end Israel Idonije. While there is always the theory that McClellin could some day move to middle linebacker, McClellin is expected to battle Corey Wootton (7.0 sacks) for the defensive end spot opposite Julius Peppers. But both players must continue to develop without the aid of respected defensive line guru Rod Marinelli, who opted to leave the Bears and join the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff after Bears general manager Phil Emery hired Marc Trestman to replace former head coach Lovie Smith.
However, the Bears did retain defensive line coach Mike Phair, who worked closely with Marinelli the last two years. McClellin believes Phair can fill the void left by Marinelli as the Bears and new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker plan to run the same style of defense they did under Smith for the previous nine seasons.
“(Marinelli) was a great coach,” McClellin said. “I think Mike Phair learned a lot from him. We are definitely going to miss him. Marinelli was like Yoda to Phair. Phair is stepping up, he’s the new Yoda.”