- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears rookie first-round defensive end Shea McClellin hung his head the first week of training camp, and admitted to being disappointed in the way he had performed in drills.
But as McClellin continues to improve as camp progresses, general manager Phil Emery said on Tuesday that he’s “glad we drafted him.”
“I see a guy that has very good speed off the edge,” Emery told the “Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “The most important thing when you look at Shea is he’s a very instinctive, very good ballplayer. He’s a baller. He makes plays on instincts. I see that. That was evident last Thursday in that he made plays. So I feel very good about where Shea’s going. Are there things that Shea needs to work on? Absolutely. But I can say that about every player on our roster.”
Making his NFL debut on Thursday against the Denver Broncos in the exhibition opener, McClellin produced three tackles, a sack, a stop for lost yardage and two quarterback pressures. The 19th overall pick, McClellin recorded the sack in the first quarter by chasing down former Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie outside the pocket near the end of the first quarter.
McClellin flashed the speed Chicago’s scouting staff coveted when the club drafted him. Despite McClellin’s background as a linebacker at Boise State, Emery expects the rookie to develop into a playmaking defensive end for the Bears’ 4-3 front. At the same time, the plan, Emery said, is to exercise patience in developing McClellin.
“The transition just in the NFL takes time. We’re certainly going to be patient with Shea. But I do see a player that in practice and so far in games is making progress. That’s a very important thing," Emery said. "We’re looking for Shea to be a contributor to a productive, effective rush unit, and we definitely see that he can do that.”