Shea McClellin was better at defensive end than a lot of people thought he would be as a rookie last season. But even so, there were many times in 2012 he looked like a better linebacker.
While Lovie Smith's coaching staff was adamant that McClellin was a hand-on-the-ground defensive end, new Bears coach Marc Trestman left open the possibility that McClellin could play another position in defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's defense.
''We've talked about that,'' Trestman said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. ''He has flexibility. He's a tremendous athlete.
''As we put our football team together, we'll work on that. We've had discussions about Shea and all the strengths and his weaknesses. And he's got a lot of strengths and a lot of great things he can do. As Mel and the guys continue to put the defense together, we'll decide collectively what the best place for him to play is.''
Bears general manager Phil Emery said McClellin still is a defensive end and the plan is to keep him at defensive end. But he also left open the possibility that things could change under the new coaching staff. It sounds like McClellin is a defensive end until he's not.
''Right now he's a d-end and he'll remain a d-end,'' Emery said. ''But we're not going to put an umbrella around him. We're going to use his talents, his athleticism, his speed, his savvy, the best we can. And whatever our coaches can concoct as far as a plan for him, we'll use every ounce of it.
''He is a d-end. That's his position. We're excited about him as a pass rusher. We want to get him on the field more on regular-down situations. And where his versatility is, that's a plus for him. So if he ends being a linebacker in some situations, then good.''