Bears eagerly await ‘RG3’
CHICAGO – Shea McClellin admired Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III from afar last season as both players wrapped up their college careers.
Although McClellin’s Boise State Broncos never played against Griffin’s Baylor Bears, the defensive end knew all about how the player known as “RG3” could beat an opponent.
“His feet,” McClellin said. “His arm. Everything. He’s a great athlete.”
Today, the fellow first-round draft picks finally will face each other as NFL rookies.
The Bears (0-1) will mark the halfway point of their preseason schedule today after they play the Washington Redskins (1-0) at Soldier Field. Several Bears veterans such as Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and Julius Peppers are expected to make their preseason debut after sitting out last week’s 31-3 blowout loss against the Denver Broncos.
Cutler cautioned fans and reporters not to read too much into today’s result.
“We still have a lot of time,” Cutler said this week at Olivet Nazarene University.
“What we unroll against the Washington Redskins isn’t the final product. ...
“We’ve still got the rest of the preseason, and then we’ll have game week [to prepare for the regular-season opener],” Cutler said. “We’ve got to hammer down what we want to do offensively. We want to get in there, in the huddle and execute plays, but it’s not going to be the end of the world if we’re not clicking on all cylinders.”
On defense, the Bears could offer a more accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. The team’s pass rush and secondary will be tested by Griffin (6-2, 217 pounds), who passed for 37 touchdowns and rushed for 10 more at Baylor last season and was the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft behind Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
Bears coach Lovie Smith rarely praises rookie opponents, but Griffin proved to be an exception. He arrived at training camp as the No. 1 quarterback on the Redskins’ depth chart ahead of ex-Bear Rex Grossman, rookie Kirk Cousins and Jonathan Crompton.
“I’ve been impressed with him for a long time,” Smith said. “His college coach is an old high school friend of mine, so of course I followed him and them quite a bit.
“He can do everything you want a quarterback to do. I think he had over a 145 quarterback rating in the 14 plays he played last week. He’ll be a good challenge for us. It seems like most of the quarterbacks nowadays are athletic and they can beat you moving around buying time to complete passes. He can do that.”
The Bears are expected to start Peppers and Israel Idonije at defensive end, but both veterans could gave way to younger players for the bulk of the game. McClellin’s roster spot is safe as a third defensive end, but others such as Corey Wootton, Chauncey Davis and Thaddeus Gibson could bolster their chances to make the team with a good game.
“Every year in this league, you have to prove yourself again,” said Wootton, who battled injuries last season but now is fully healthy. “No matter what you did the year before, how good you did or how bad you did, you definitely have to prove yourself.”