Bronco Beat

Broncos in the NFL: Shea McClellin could start for Bears at middle linebacker

Former Boise State star Shea McClellin seems to be fitting in with a new position and a new coaching staff in his fourth season with the Chicago Bears.

McClellin, who played defensive end and outside linebacker at Boise State, has moved to middle linebacker this season. He was drafted in the first round in 2012 as a defensive end and moved to linebacker in 2014.

He has been the first-team middle linebacker in training camp with the Bears this year under new coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

"It's a fresh start," McClellin told the Chicago Tribune. "They have nothing invested in me."

The new Bears staff initially asked McClellin where he would like to play. He suggested outside linebacker.

A week later, the Tribune reports, coaches told him he would play at middle linebacker.

The Bears like McClellin in the middle because of his smarts and ability to take charge of the defense, something he hasn't done before.

"I think he's found a home in there and it's going to be a growing process," Fangio told the Tribune. "It's a position that relies a lot on experience, instincts, play recognition, and I think he's getting better and better at that."

This is a big year for McClellin because the Bears declined the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. He has made 80 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 40 career games, including 20 starts.

Some people believed he played in recent years because then-General Manager Phil Emery selected him in the first round.

"People could say that," McClellin told the newspaper. "I still think I earned (playing time)."

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I caught up with McClellin in the spring when he was in town and asked him about the position changes that have marked his NFL career.

"It’s crazy," he said. "That’s the way it goes. I’m the kind of guy that whatever they want me to do I’ll do it. I’m not going to complain."

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McClellin is one of 18 former Boise State players in NFL training camps. The full list is available here.

We’ll check in on each of the guys throughout the month of August.

Previously:

Jamar Taylor

Charles Leno Jr.

Jay Ajayi

George Iloka

Austin Pettis

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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