Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman was an early participant at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine this morning. At the podium and during the Chicago media session, Trestman addressed nearly every aspect of his team, including the club's linebackers.
Two of the team's starters from 2013, D.J. Williams and James Anderson, will soon be free agents. Back in January, Trestman discussed his satisfaction with the play of Williams last year, before a pectoral injury in Week 5 cut his season short. Trestman today said the team would like to re-sign Williams to again start at middle linebacker.
The return of Williams at middle linebacker, alongside Lance Briggs on the weak side, would give the Bears solid veterans at two of the three starting positions. On the strong side, Trestman confirmed that Shea McClellin will get a shot to be the starter.
"Shea McClellin knows he will be a linebacker," Trestman said.
Trestman said McClellin, who has played defensive end in Chicago since being drafted in the first round in 2012, will compete with last year's second rounder, Jon Bostic, for the starting SAM gig. He also said both players will get an opportunity to compete at middle linebacker, although Williams would likely get first billing at MIKE if he's re-signed.
The Bears also have 2013 fourth rounder Khaseem Greene, who started four games last year, on the roster. Greene will likely serve as the club's fourth or fifth linebacker.
Trestman reiterated the team's desire to get younger on defense – "It will be a defensive-orientated draft" – yet it doesn't appear that philosophy applies to the linebacker position. As of now, the plan is to go with two veterans, with the kids fighting it out for the final starting spot.
Said GM Phil Emery: "This is what we envision: Shea is going to move to linebacker but Shea will be used in multiple roles, wherever his skills will take him. He is a perfect candidate to be on the field all downs in some capacity, whether that is blitzing, rushing, playing against the run in run personnel but he is going to have to compete for his job. He's going to have to win that job. He could win that job at SAM. He could win that job at MIKE.
"The competition right now is Jon Bostic, Khaseem Greene and it's Shea. Obviously, we feel that Lance Briggs is our weak starter. If we add back a D.J. Williams or another player, that player will be involved in that competitive mix and the best person wins those two spots.
"We're excited about the competition. That's what makes your team better and we're excited that we have players that possess enough talent that whoever wins can help us win championships."
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is entering his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.