Bears preach patience with McClellin at LB

BOURBONNAIS — Shea McClellin's NFL debut at linebacker during the Bears' 34-28 exhibition win over the Eagles on Friday wasn't exactly evidence of a young player on the verge of a major breakthrough. McClellin was on the field for 29 defensive snaps and contributed only two tackles, the first after a 15-yard reception by Jeremy Maclin and another after a short reception by Zach Ertz.

McClellin looked very much like a player still adapting to a position change, especially in coverage. He was also inconsistent getting off blocks to make stops in the run game. But on Monday, as the Bears continued gearing up for their second exhibition test, the directive out of training camp was to withhold definitive judgment on McClellin's potential until a larger sample size is available for evaluation.

In other words, Thursday's game at Soldier Field against the Jaguars will put McClellin under the microscope again. And next week's trip to face the Super Bowl champion Seahawks should prove telling as well.

Linebackers coach Reggie Herring remains a vocal supporter of McClellin and was not worried about a lack of production Friday, asserting that the Bears' 2012 first-round pick was "on schedule" in his development.

"He needs to play more games, and I really believe that he'll be a solid player for us," Herring said.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker admits McClellin needs to continue to show improvement in his run-pass reads while developing a better feel to play more instinctively. But both Tucker and Herring remain encouraged by what they've seen during camp.

"He has got great instincts," Herring said. "Take him squirrel hunting. He'll knock the eyes out of 'em. … To be honest with you, there's times out there when he moves better than all of them — change of direction, instincts, breaking on the ball. It's a process.

"Y'all be patient. At the end of the day, we'll know after the first game, second game, where we're at with him."

Future returns? The Bears had hoped to give receiver Chris Williams his opportunity to return kickoffs during the second half Friday. But Williams tweaked his right hamstring on a 73-yard touchdown catch midway through the third quarter and had to leave the game for good. He hasn't practiced the last two days and may miss Thursday's game.

When Williams finally does get his opportunity to return kickoffs and punts in an exhibition game, special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis will be emphasizing ball security.

"You've got to catch the ball in a real live game and catch punts in a real live situation," DeCamillis said. "So we'll see those things going forward."

DeCamillis did take note of the speed Williams showed on his TD grab. Williams said he felt his hamstring tighten right as he caught the deep ball from Jimmy Clausen. But he still outraced a pair of Eagles defensive backs for the final 50 yards.

"It was kind of like autopilot mode," Williams said. "Once I was already going, it was just going with it."

Added DeCamillis: "Hopefully we can get that (speed) formulated in the kicking game."

Extra points: The Bears won't be game-planning for the Jaguars this week, a common approach early during preseason. Said Tucker: "Really, it's about us right now, just cleaning up some of the things from the previous game." Specifically, Tucker was bothered by the defense's eight penalties for 60 yards against the Eagles. ... On a moist morning, the Bears moved their practice into the Olivet Nazarene University stadium onto a field-turf surface that is only three weeks old.