The Bears are thrilled to have inside linebacker Shea McClellin back on the field after the four-year veteran missed three games with a knee injury.
Last Sunday McClellin recorded nine tackles, including a season-high eight solo stops, while also forcing and recovering a key fumble in a 37-13 drubbing of the Rams.
|Last Sunday Shea McClellin recorded nine tackles, a season-high eight solo stops and also forced and recovered a fumble.|
"Shea did well," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "Shea's a stud. That was a 4-6-week injury and he came back right on the four-week mark. A lot of times guys are at the 6-or-7-week mark and he came right back as early as he could and went out there and played good and made his presence felt early with a big strip fumble there."
With the Bears trailing 10-7 late in the first quarter, McClellin ripped the ball away from running back Tre Mason and recovered the fumble at the St. Louis 19, setting up Robbie Gould's 35-yard field goal, which tied the score.
"I was very excited just to be out there with my teammates," McClellin said. "It's been a while. Every game I'm just trying to make a big play. It happened this game and it's exciting. It kind of feels like a weight off my shoulder a little bit."
After McClellin played defensive end and outside linebacker during his first three seasons with the Bears, Fangio moved him to inside linebacker in the team's new 3-4 scheme—and McClellin has excelled at the new position.
"My first reaction was I was surprised actually," McClellin said. "I thought I'd be more of an outside 'backer, just because that's where I played more in the past. He told me we were going to try me [inside], and I was fine with it. That's where I played in high school. So I think that's where I get my instincts, is from that. I'm glad he made that decision. I think it's worked out good."
Just another game: John Fox downplayed the personal significance of facing his former team Sunday. The Bears coach led the Broncos to four straight AFC West championships and one AFC title while compiling a 46-18 regular-season record from 2011-14.
"It was a good run," Fox said. "I thank Mr. [Pat] Bowlen for the opportunity. Now, my life's changed and I'm here. It's a big game for both teams, I'm sure. I know it is for us and like all games we're looking forward to it."
Health update: Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and receiver Eddie Royal did not practice Wednesday due to knee injuries.
McClellin (knee), running back Kyle Long (knee), receiver Alshon Jeffery (groin and shoulder), center Hroniss Grasu (neck) and safety Antrel Rolle (ankle) were limited.
Pulling even: With a win Sunday, the Bears (4-5) would reach the .500 mark for the first time since they were 3-3 last season.
"This game is going to be big as far as getting back to .500," said outside linebacker Sam Acho. "It's always important to get to a place in the season where you can compete and that's why winning is so important early on and even as the season goes on. We want to be at a point where we can be .500 and compete."
Roster move: The Bears on Wednesday re-signed cornerback Terrance Mitchell to their practice squad. Mitchell had been waived Tuesday when rookie cornerback Jacoby Glenn was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster.
Mitchell has appeared in five games for the Bears this season, recording one tackle on defense, one pass breakup and one tackle on special teams.