The Bears Den: February 21, 2014 - Chicago Bears NFL Combine news & notes

Justin K. Aller

Chris Conte is expected to return and compete for a starting job next season. Can he regain his shattered confidence?

Larry Mayer's Chalk Talk - Larry discusses where Bostic will line up in 2014, Peppers' future with the Bears, and why the team were able to sign a free agent before March 11.

Bears brass discuss free agents-to-be - Larry Mayer: Phil Emery declined to detail a priority list, but both he and Marc Trestman answered questions about some of the team's key free agents-to-be Thursday at the NFL Combine.

Everything you need to know from Bears’ NFL Combine press conferences - Adam Hoge: From Julius Peppers' future to retaining Mel Tucker to free agency, all the latest Bears news.

Follow WCG on Twitter; like us on Facebook (& click on 'Subscribed to'). O Canada. Check out David "OSS" Taylor's CheekyMonkeyArt prints and t-shirts. Den pic in hi-res.

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McClellin moving from DE to MLB/SLB

Bears moving McClellin to linebacker - Larry Mayer: Marc Trestman confirmed Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine that third-year pro Shea McClellin will move from DE to LB.

Meet your new linebacker — Shea McClellin - Adam Hoge: It's a fall-back plan, but Shea McClellin has the versatility the Bears are looking for at linebacker.

McClellin will compete at strong-side and middle linebacker - Rich Campbell: Emery has faith McClellin will force his way onto the field with his athleticism. If he does, Emery expects a significant step forward for the whole defense.

Bostic, McClellin competition setting up for LB spots - A hybrid MLB-DE role for McClellin would not be a Bears first. Bryan Cox was a free-agent signing in 1996, installed as the starting MLB and moved to end as an edge rusher in nickel situations.

Bears shift gears and put McClellin at linebacker - Bob LeGere: After he registered just one fewer QB pressure in 2013 than team leader Julius Peppers, Bears hope McClellin's speed and athleticism will be put to better use by the position switch.

Shea McClellin's switch to LB now official - Michael C. Wright: Given the team’s evaluation of his physical attributes, it appears the Bears envision a Swiss Army knife-type of role for McClellin.

Bears’ LB experiment worth a shot - Barry Rozner: The Bears’ move of Shea McClellin to linebacker seems desperate or even goofy, until you listen to Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin. Then, suddenly, the Bears sound logical.

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Defense

It's no surprise defense on Bears' minds - Dan Wiederer: Emery and Trestman know their personnel problems and seek to address them via free agency and the draft.

Trestman eager to transform Bears' defense - Brad Biggs: In one offseason the Bears not only rebuilt their offensive line, they shot to No. 2 in the NFL in scoring. Now comes the defense.

Trestman reiterates faith in Mel Tucker as leader - Dan Wiederer: Marc Trestman made the decision last month to keep defensive coordinator Mel Tucker around. At the NFL Combine, he explained why.

Bears defensive picture remains muddled - Bob LeGere: With all the UFA on defense and a desire to go D-heavy in May's draft, it might be at least a couple months before the Bears have a strong sense of how they will look on that side of the ball next season.

Melton drops weight, Bears want him back - Jeff Dickerson: Phil Emery said on Thursday the club's preference is to re-sign Henry Melton but, as with many of their other free agents, it'll come down to money.

Signing Melton would give Bears flexibility - Brad Biggs: Satisfying their needs at tackle could allow the Bears to look for an edge rusher, a safety or even a CB or LB in the first round.

Bears noncommittal about Julius Peppers - Michael C. Wright: The team seems to be running out of options, and pushing money into future years to keep Peppers might no longer be worth the effort.

Chris Conte to compete for starting job - Jeff Dickerson: Phil Emery said on Thursday that the team is expected to bring Conte to training camp and let the 2011 third-round draft choice compete for one of the two starting safety spots.

Bears to create competition for Chris Conte - Rich Campbell: Trestman and Emery expressed their desire Thursday at the NFL scouting combine to see Conte overcome his adverse 2013 season and win the competition for a starting spot.

Bears could open 2014 with three new DB starters - Moon Mullin: Tim Jennings was a priority post-season signing, but the possibility exists for the Bears to open 2014 with changes in the other three spots in the secondary.

Countdown to Combine: Cornerback - Michael C. Wright with a few prospects the Bears might be taking a closer look at in Indianapolis.

Draft preview - Mike Mayock's take on 19 teams' draft needs: Bears could go defensive end.

X&Os: Football 101 On ‘Multiple’ looks of Defenses - Dan Durkin breaks down what the buzzwords the Bears are using actually mean.

Lovie Smith still high on the Bears - Michael C. Wright: Smith couldn’t point out anything specifically that explained Chicago’s defensive demise in 2013, but the coach expressed confidence in the group bouncing back this upcoming season.

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Bearsss

Phil Emery: Bears 'wide open' at punter - Jeff Dickerson: With the Bears presently carrying three punters on their offseason roster, the team is not close to naming the 2014 starter.

Emery on 1st-round pick: ‘A lot of offensive playmakers on the board’ - Adam Hoge: The Bears aren't willing to trade down in the first round unless they're blown away with an offer.

[Video] View from the Moon - Moon talks Bears from the Combine.

Bears, McCown still hoping to stay together - Dan Wiederer: With free agency just around the corner, Josh McCown will have outside options. But he and the Bears hope to come to agreement on a deal that keeps him in Chicago.

Team notes - Rich Campbell: Trestman says Bears have no bullying problem; leap of faith with injured players; team hopes to retain Josh McCown.

Sun-Times Bears section here.

Check WCGer Sackman's selection of Bears-themed tops here, or some t-shirt designs here.

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Polish sausage

Know thy enemy: Packers - Rob Demovsky: Plenty of tight end options if Jermichael Finley's done. Three possibilities.

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Ben Goessling previews three QBs the Vikings might be looking at in the draft. Tom Pelissero: Would ‘love’ to trade back. [Bring Back Ponder! - Den]

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein: Jim Caldwell mum on Brandon Pettigrew's future, explains Delmas, Burleson moves.

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All Shat, all the time.

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