Sep 22, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs (55) smiles with linebacker D.J. Williams (58) after making a tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears Roster Battle Review: Linebacker

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There is a lot of work left to do before the Chicago Bears starting lineup is set.  What can be expected from key roster battles, starting with linebacker?

Strong Side:  Shea McClellin vs. Jon Bostic

Since Lance Briggs is expected to assume his customary spot on the weak side, the primary battle to come will focus on the strong side.  Vacated by James Anderson from last season, it seems the spot has become a two-man race.  On the one side is second-year man Jon Bostic.  After struggling at times last year in the middle, it was hinted that perhaps a move to the outside would be beneficial for Bostic given his speed and natural athleticism.  He would also have to do less thinking which always makes the job easier.  His primary opponent is Shea McClellin.

Having spent two seasons at defensive end, the former 1st round pick is eager to show that linebacker was the position he was meant for all along.  All off-season was speant getting his body ready.  He’s lighter, faster and quicker.  Compared to Bostic, McClellin is somewhat bigger which would prove beneficial on the strong side and his added ability to rush the passer grants flexibility to defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.  The question for him and the Chicago Bears is does he have the athleticism to drop into coverage?

Middle:  Jon Bostic vs. D.J. Williams

Crazy as it may sound, Jon Bostic is a legitimate threat to start at two linebacker positions instead of one.  Despite his inconsistency last year, the Bears are not ready to give up on him as a solution at middle linebacker.  They feel his growing experience and added help from a shift in scheme that better accents his skills will give him a better chance to execute.  As stated above his speed and athleticism would be most beneficial to have in the middle.  The problem is whether he can handle the mental rigors that go with it.

Such is something veteran D.J. Williams has ably handled for years dating back to his days in Denver.  Last season the Chicago Bears coaches were firmly confident in his ability to step right in following the departure of Brian Urlacher.  For a time they were right, until he tore his pectoral muscle.  Dating back to 2011, Williams has missed 22 games because of injury and suspension.  His reliability to stay on the field is all but dead.  Even so he’s been effective when he has played.  Based on the outlook, it has shifted from him having to lose the job to Bostic having to win the job in order to see a new starter in the middle.

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Tags: Chicago Bears D.J. Williams Jon Bostic Shea McClellin

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