New defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has been impressed with what he's seen so far from last year's first-round draft pick, Shea McClellin.
The 19th overall pick showed some ability to rush the passer last season in nickel situations and playing in a rotation behind the starters.
"You see it on tape," Tucker said Wednesday afternoon following the second minicamp practice. "He's athletic. He's got pass-rush ability. He's very conscientious about getting better each and every day. That's what I was told about him. I saw the ability on tape, and I see it here on the practice field, so I'm very encouraged."
Encouraged enough to consider McClellin an every-down player this season?
"He'll get what he earns," Tucker said. "So we'll see."
McClellin has been trying to get better and bigger in the off-season.
"I've just working on building mass," he said. "I knew I had to get bigger. I'm still trying to get quicker and faster. Working on (using my) hands, everything in pass rush."
McClellin said he's put on 5-7 pounds from last season, when he was listed at 260 pounds.
Something more special:
Devin Hester is working exclusively on special teams in the early going, but that doesn't mean he's just a return specialist.
For the second straight day he performed tackling drills with the punt- and kick-coverage players, and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said his role could be expanded, especially if he isn't working with the wide receivers.
"He's definitely going to be fresher to do those (kick-coverage) things, and that's something that we're evaluating right now," DeCamillis said. "He's still working on all those things. He'll be working on all the cover teams, and he'll also be working some other things for us, too.
"He's a great weapon and we want to try to use him as much as we can."
Hester has limited experience covering kicks. But he has some of the skills that make for a great gunner, the outside player in punt coverage.
"The biggest thing about a great gunner sometimes is the guy that can get there the fastest," DeCamillis said. "We had a guy in Denver a long time ago, he was an Olympic sprinter named Sam Graddy. Sam wasn't the best tackler in the world, but he sure caused a lot of fair catches. So hopefully we can expand (Hester's) role and see what happens."
Same as before:
Safeties Chris Conte and Tom Zbikowski both had interceptions and long returns for what would have been touchdowns during Wednesday's 11-on-11 work.
That continued a Lovie Smith tradition of defensive players picking up any loose balls and trying to score, even in practice.
"With any defense, those are the things that you want to stress," said Conte, who started 15 games at free safety last season. "It made us a successful defense, so why change it?
"We're going to keep that stuff going. We have mostly the same players. The same mentality is still there. And these coaches are preaching the same thing now that our coaches were before."