Bears linebacker shuffling features some new twists

Bears linebacker shuffling features some new twists
August 9, 2014, 12:00 am
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Preseason games are the next step in sorting out who among Jonathan Bostic, Shea McClellin and D.J. Williams would be paired with Lance Briggs. Some positive steps were taken along with a couple not-so-positive.

D.J. Williams started at middle linebacker, as expected. What was not as expected was Williams staying in with Lance Briggs as the two linebackers in No. 1 nickel personnel.

For Williams, whose season ended just six games into last season when he suffered a pectoral injury, “It felt pretty good to be out there as a unit with live bullets flying,” he said. “We only got about nine or 10 plays and it’s hard to judge from that. But from what it felt like, I think we did a pretty good job for a first preseason game.”

Jonathan Bostic has been paired with Briggs in 1-nickel. Bostic appeared to lose tight end Zach Ertz on a 34-yard completion and he overran one Eagles running play.

[MORE: Bears backup TEs make good early impression]

Not encouraging was McClellin’s work overall. He lost Ertz on an 18-yard completion after Ertz’s 34-yard gain and also gave ground into the end zone on a one-yard TD run by reserve running back Matthew Tucker.

“It felt comfortable,” McClellin said. “I missed a couple tackles. It’s a start and I need to get better from here.”

Briggs is ensconced as one starter. If coaches go simply with starting their three best linebackers, Bostic and Williams appeared to finish the opener ahead of a still-struggling McClellin, who was credited with two solo tackles in the first half.

By the third quarter, Bostic was still in along with Khaseem Greene. The latter, who unofficially had the highest number of sacks among the linebackers, turned in a strong effort shedding a block by Philadelphia left tackle Kevin Graf and recovering a third-quarter fumble that he returned 19 yards to set up a Robbie Gould field goal of 26 yards.

But Bostic was flagged for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter and Greene for a facemask violation late in the first quarter.