With Bostic sidelined, will McClellin's role grow for Chicago Bears?
BOURBONNAIS -- In the two seasons after he was drafted in the second round in 2013, Jon Bostic started 17 games, at least one at each of the three linebacker positions.
But he's coming back slowly from a nagging, non-specific injury (back, shin, hip) that kept out of most off-season practices. So Bostic, the team leader in tackles last season with 127, has been more of a spectator than he'd like as he narrows his focus to learning the inside linebacker positions in the new 3-4 defense.
Meanwhile Shea McClellin and Christian Jones are running with the ones at inside linebacker with free agent Mason Foster also in the mix.
McClellin has failed to distinguish himself in three seasons since being drafted in the first round (19th overall). He was miscast at defensive end in 2012 and '13. At outside linebacker last season, McClellin was fourth on the team in tackles with 84 but had just 1 sack. The new coaching staff believes he's a better fit at inside linebacker.
"He's smart and he's tough," coach John Fox said. "He's athletic. Moving from any outside position to an inside position is a little bit of an adjustment, but I like what I've seen and you know he's spearheading it and working very hard to learn and understand the skill set and what it takes to play there."
Bostic has had to settle for taking more mental reps than physical ones, but he said he believes he's close to getting back in the mix.
"I'd rather be out there than standing on the side watching," Bostic said. "It's frustrating for me, but at the same time, you've got to patient, you've got to trust your trainers, trust your coaches. When they feel I'm ready, I'll be full-go."
At 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, Ego Ferguson is one of the few linemen from last year's team who has the bulk to transition to the new 3-4 scheme and remain up front, and he's been lining up with the first team at end.
"I've been pleased with what he's done," coach John Fox said. "He works hard in the classroom, he works hard in the weight room and he works hard out here (in practice). I've been pleased with his progress."
Maybe next time:
One of the highlights of Saturday's practice was a flea-flicker that had running back Matt Forte taking a handoff but pitching the ball back to quarterback Jay Cutler, who overthrew Alshon Jeffery, who was open deep.
"I told him it looked like I threw it," coach John Fox said to Cutler. "And that's not a compliment."
Sitting it out:
Offensive left tackle Jermon Bushrod was held out of practice (coach's decision) and right guard Kyle Long (bruised shoulder) didn't participate in any team portions of the first practice in full pads, but coach John Fox described Long's injury as "nothing serious."
Second-year defensive linemen Will Sutton (ankle) and Ego Ferguson (leg cramp) were sidelined briefly but both returned to practice.
Tight end Dante Rosario missed a second straight day for excused personal reasons but was expected back in camp Saturday night.
First-round pick Kevin White (shin) remains on the physically unable to perform) list and out of practice, and he has not been seen doing any running or any type of cardio work.
Regaining cardiovascular fitness was one of the things Fox and GM Ryan Pace said White needed to do before returning, after staying off his injured leg for more than a month. So Fox was asked if White has been able to any cardio work outside of practice.
"I'd say it's fair to say he's doing it at some level, some phase (of it)," the Bears coach said. "But he's making progress."