Stock Watch: McClellin developing quickly

September, 19, 2012
9/19/12
10:41
AM ET
McClellinMatthew Emmons/US PresswireRookie Shea McClellin has made an immediate impact on the Bears' defense.

RISING


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Tim Jennings
1. Tim Jennings, CB: Nabbing his third interception of the season against the Green Bay Packers, Jennings has already surpassed his career high of two INTs in addition to making possible another pick by tipping an Andrew Luck pass to Chris Conte. Sure, Jennings worked on his hands in the offseason. But it’s his feet that get him in position for the picks. So all around, Jennings has tremendously improved his game. What’s more is he’s playing with an infectious confidence.

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Shea McClellin
2. Shea McClellin, DE: Early in training camp, it appeared McClellin would struggle to acclimate to the NFL game. But as the preseason progressed, the rookie first-round pick gradually improved. That’s beginning to show in a major way on game days. McClellin generated 1.5 sacks against the Packers on Thursday, and his role in the defensive line rotation continues to evolve. If you extrapolate McClellin’s production through two games over a full season, he’s on pace for a 12-sack rookie year. That would equate to a draft pick well spent by the Bears.

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Julius Peppers
3. Julius Peppers, DE: His performance against the Packers should erase any criticism about Peppers being overrated. He’s not; never has been. The Packers doubled and sometimes even triple-teamed Peppers. Yet the veteran still came away with two sacks, and freed up his teammates to combine for another three. If anything, Peppers is a tad underrated, especially as a run defender who is often tasked with the job of holding up blockers to allow the linebackers to make plays.

FALLING


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Jay Cutler
1. Jay Cutler, QB: He absorbed seven sacks, threw four interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 28.2 in addition to drawing widespread criticism -- including remarks from a teammate -- for an outburst near the sideline involving left tackle J'Marcus Webb. On Tuesday, the quarterback insisted he kept his composure during a game in which he threw errant passes and held the ball too long on several occasions, resulting in sacks.

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J'Marcus Webb
2. J’Marcus Webb, LT: Gave up two sacks and a pair of quarterback pressures, resulting in the wrath of Cutler, which in some ways might have been deserved (at least behind closed doors). Webb definitely struggled against one of the NFL’s best pass rushers in Clay Matthews, but his performance wasn’t as bad as it’s been made out to be. That’s why Webb goes into Game 3 still a starter. But he’s definitely got to improve if he wants to keep his job.

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Carimi
3. Gabe Carimi, RT: Played well as a run blocker, but struggled in pass protection. Carimi surrendered a team-high five pressures against the Packers. But that seemed to go unnoticed with all the hoopla involving Cutler and Webb. Carimi would probably admit his performance wasn’t up to par because he’s a harsh self-critic. As the team settles into the new system and all of its nuances, Carimi will play better. It’s not like him to stack shaky performances.

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