With an increasing need for an extra defensive back to defend against three- and four-wide receiver sets, it stands to reason the third corner would be considered a starter by many. Smith also maintains the third defensive end should be counted as a starter.
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He flashed speed and quickness that was advertised on Saturday night but was hard on himself following Sunday's session. On one play, undrafted free-agent right tackle James Brown buried him.
"My pass rushing wasn't very good, so I was kind of disappointed," he said. "I'm pretty hard on myself, so I've got to do better than that."
There is plenty of time for McClellin to hone his craft, and for those who continue to talk about his ability to drop in coverage and wonder about a potential future as a linebacker, Smith reminded everyone why he is here.
"He is going to earn his money based on what he does rushing the passer," Smith said. "Got a long ways to go."
Don't take that to mean the Bears are not pleased with McClellin. He's right near the playing weight the club set for him at 255 pounds. Some question if it's a little light to play left end, but the team wants him to maintain his quickness. He also feels stronger after a summer of lifting at Boise State, a directive he received from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
"They just want me to be fast and that is where I feel comfortable at," McClellin said.
Defensive line coach Mike Phair is looking for the same traits the Bears saw in McClellin when they did detailed work on him heading into the draft.
"He just kind of slithered," Phair said. "He was very natural and instinctive and would find ways to get through tight spots. You could see that when you watched him. He was fluid and it was very easy. You saw a lot of that on his college tape too."
It's too early to talk about McClellin pushing for a starting job, and really, Smith would be happy if he could find that 13th starter to take reps on pass-rushing downs. In the last 28 regular-season games, since Mark Anderson was released, the Bears' third end has collected just two sacks.
"I don't know about problem area," Smith said. "We're always trying to improve our entire ballclub. We drafted a defensive end in the first round and we like our two starters. You can't have too many good pass rushers."
Smith didn't want to put a target for playing time on McClellin but suggested 30 percent of the snaps would be a good place to start. But in the past he has been fixated on the playing time for the third end, having a chart kept for Anderson's snaps on the sideline during the 2006 season when he wanted the nickel rusher on the field more and more.
"The first thing is for a third end to show us they deserve reps and from there he will show us exactly how many he needs to get and in what situations," Smith said. "Third ends, most of the time, guys want to come in and rush the passer. We hope we have that situation where we have another good pass rusher and we're trying to figure out ways to get all of them reps."
Smith said he's still following the career of Anderson, who was released early in the 2010 season and signed a $19.5 million, four-year contract with the Bills during free agency.
"Mark got his start here and he played good football for us," Smith said. "For whatever reason, we went through a period of time where Mark probably wasn't pleased with his play and it just didn't work out. That was one year. He did a great job for us here and I of course have been following him since he left, and I am excited about where he is now."
Smith will be even more excited if McClellin can approach the 12-sack season Anderson had as a rookie. That would solve a problem area, whether the coach wants to admit it exists or not.