LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Losing a Pro Bowl player would ruin the offseason for most NFL special teams coordinators.
Not Dave Toub.
Even with 2011 Pro Bowl selection Corey Graham signing with the Baltimore Ravens, Toub and the Bears still believe they came out way ahead on the special teams front in both free agency and the draft. Chicago signed core players Eric Weems and Blake Costanzo and drafted promising rookies Brandon Hardin and Greg McCoy. Throw in a contract extension for Toub, and it's been smooth sailing the past few months for the man considered by many to be the best special teams coach in the league.
"I love the guys we added," Toub said Saturday. "Eric Weems and Costanzo are solid. One is a former Pro Bowl player himself (Weems). I'm really looking forward to working with these guys. I'm really happy with them."
Toub is also convinced Hardin, the Bears' third-round draft choice out of Oregon State, can step in and make an immediate impact on special teams. Unlike some former collegiate standouts who never had to worry about special teams before the NFL, Hardin was a standout special teamer during his career with the Beavers.
"Hardin, he really loved special teams," Toub said. "He was their (Oregon State) gunner, their starting gunner. First guy down the field on kickoff, first guy down the field on punt, he made a lot of tackles. He jumped out at you on the film as far as special teams. We're really happy to have him. Great speed, good size, and he's got a great attitude."
McCoy, the Bears' seventh-round pick, is another rookie worth watching from a special-teams perspective. Although he probably will be competing against fellow rookie and sixth round selection Isaiah Frey for a roster spot, McCoy was a decorated return man at TCU. At the moment, the Bears are set in the return game with Devin Hester and Weems, but McCoy should be given plenty of opportunities to impress the coaching staff in the preseason.
First-rounder Shea McClellin, on the other hand, is not expected to have a large role on special teams, according to Toub. Even though McClellin said on draft day he embraced the idea of playing special teams, the Bears believe the majority of his time will be spent on defense. The rookie defensive end is being counted on to improve the teams' pass rush and therefore is projected to be in the rotation at the start of the regular season.
"Until he's either a first or second (string) guy, we'll work him on special teams as much as we can," Toub said of McClellin. "But we don't anticipate him being that guy. We think he is going to move up and be where we think he is going to be."