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Bears Are On Their Marc At Mini-Camp

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Alshon Jeffery could be in for a breakout season. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.
Alshon Jeffery could be in for a breakout season. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Marc Trestman era got off to a fast start on Tuesday, and the new Chicago Bears head coach would have it no other way.

The first day of the three-day mini-camp was noteworthy for its pace, which several players conceded was more up-tempo than under former head coach Lovie Smith in the last previous nine seasons.

Of course, the real question is whether the new systems can be executed efficiently at a similar speed months from now. Until then, Trestman and his staff seemed to be fairly satisfied.

“It's very clear that we have a fast football team, and practicing fast will help us (develop) the muscle memory to play fast all the time, ” said Trestman, whose CFL teams were known for their fast break attack.  “It was a good start for that.”

Other story lines at the Walter Payton Center:

The development of younger players: In particular, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and defensive end Shea McClellin are expected to make noticeable strides in their second seasons.

“They should be ascending, certainly,” Trestman said. “Consistency of staff, consistency in working with coaches who can help them with their craft, not debilitating their development with new things.”

Jeffery spent the winter in Florida, where he worked out with teammate wide receiver Brandon Marshall and studied film of himself. The rookie caught only 24 passes last season, but his 15.3-yard average was an indication of big-play potential.

McClellin could play an expanded role behind Corey Wooton at the left or strong side. Last season he played at slightly more than 250 pounds, nearly 10 less than listed weight. Since then, he added five-to-seven pounds in order to compete on more equal terms against larger offensive linemen, who often posed problems for him a year ago.

The role of Devin Hester: If the former return ace can't regain his magic, then maybe he can prevent opponents from the same.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis wouldn't rule out a gunner role for Hester on the coverage units. The veteran worked out with the special teams exclusively, which might have signaled an end to his wide receiver career.

“He has been a great returner, and we want to add to that as much as we can,” DeCamillis said. “He's definitely going to be fresher to (cover), and that's something we're evaluating right now.”

The return of Brian Urlacher: While general manager Phil Emery wouldn't rule out the return of the 34-year-old linebacker, he said the organization was more focused on the future than the past.

“We've committed more (financial) resources to Brian than any Bear in the history of the organization,” Emery said. “We were willing to commit more. In the end, we just could not agree on what that amount was. It's no more than that.”

Meanwhile, Urlacher was among several name free agents who remained unsigned.