CHICAGO Rookies in the NFL are to be seen, not so much heard, and first-round draft pick Shea McClellin quickly has adapted to this time-honored tradition with the Bears.
You just sit back unless you are talked to (by the veterans), McClellin said over breakfast at a downtown hotel restaurant. Maybe if I have a question or two, Ill ask them, but other than that, just laying low.
The days of rookie hazing such as taping them to a goal post after practice might be over because of league mandates, but veterans still make the newcomers earn respect and acceptance. Carrying a veterans shoulder pads and helmet after a training camp workout likely will be in store for the rookies in the coming weeks.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound McClellin, who played linebacker at Boise State, is trying to fit in both on and off the field, learning about Chicagos best restaurants, community initiatives and places to live. But his immediate concern is making a positive impression during non-contact drills with the Bears, where he has been lining up at defensive end.
Bears General Manager Phil Emery thought enough of McClellin to select him 19th overall, ahead of Syracuses Chandler Jones, Illinois Whitney Mercilus and USCs Nick Perry.
Hes a great character fit for us, Emery said after the April draft. Hes a great teammate. Hes very into football, very passionate.
McClellins plans for the rest of the offseason: Get stronger, thats for sure, he said. Maintain my weight, and if Im getting stronger and getting bigger, thats good too. Well see how it goes during this offseason.
Everybody says speed (in the NFL) is probably the biggest difference. Maybe the schemes (from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense) a little bit, but other than that, for me I dont think its a big deal. So I should get used to it pretty quickly.
McClellin said he looks forward to cultivating a relationship with veteran middle linebacker Brian Urlacher. The two are from small towns and played at moderately-sized college football programs. McClellin grew up on a 20-acre farm in tiny Marsing, Idaho. Urlacher was born in Pasco, Wash., and grew up in Lovington, New Mexico. He attended the University of New Mexico.
I kind of did the same thing (as Urlacher), so maybe in the future we will get into that, he said.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has his eye on McClellin as a speed pass rusher who can augment the threats posed by veteran defensive ends Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije.
Hes a great coach and he expects a lot from the rush men. It has been awesome so far, just learning from him, McClellin said.
McClellin said he also is committed to using his influence as a Bears player in the community.
On Saturday, McClellin will encourage donations of moderately used athletic shoes at the Allstate half-marathon at the South Shore Cultural Center. The shoes will be distributed to Chicago-area homeless shelters.
I am honored to be part of the program, just to help out people that need it, he said. Being new to this community in Chicago, Im excited and honored to be a part of it. I cant wait to get out there.