INDIANAPOLIS -- Fans clamoring for Chicago Bears' 2012 first-round draft choice Shea McClellin to move from defensive end to linebacker had their hopes raised on Thursday when coach Marc Trestman said the club is still evaluating McClellin's role on defense.
A hybrid-type player listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, McClellin lined up at inside linebacker in college in Boise State's 3-4 defense, although the Bears said last year they drafted him strictly to be a pass-rushing defensive end. McClellin spent his rookie year as a situational pass rusher (2.5 sacks) but did occasionally begin a play out of a two-point stance and drop back into coverage.
"We've talked about that," Trestman said. "He has flexibility. He's a tremendous athlete. We've had discussions about Shea about all his strengths and his weaknesses, and he has a lot of strengths and a lot of great things he can do. As (Chicago Bears defensive coordinator) Mel (Tucker) and the guys continue to put the defense together, we'll decide collectively what the best place for him to play is."
Bears general manager Phil Emery later clarified that McClellin is still considered a defensive end, but he could again be asked by the coaching staff to provide different looks and wrinkles on defense.
"Right now he's a defensive end," Emery said. "He'll remain a defensive end. If there is something in him that sparks us in terms of versatility, like he did last year when he stood up in certain situations, we're not going to put an umbrella around him. We're going to use his talents, his athleticism, his speed, his savvy to the best we can.
"Whatever our coaches can concoct as far as a plan for him we'll use every ounce of it. He is a defensive end, he is a pass rusher, (and) we want to get him on the field more in regular down situations. Where his versatility is, I think that's a plus for him. So if he ends up being a linebacker in some situations, good."