Bears' Jeffery taking early success in stride

August, 19, 2012
8/19/12
12:55
AM ET

CHICAGO -- To hear his name mentioned along with the likes of Brandon Marshall, Devin Hester and Earl Bennett as weapons at Jay Cutler’s disposal, Chicago Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery reacted with little more than his usual unassuming temperament.

[+] EnlargeAlshon Jeffery
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireAlshon Jeffery's chemistry with Jay Cutler is evident.

Basically, it’s no big deal.

“Whether it’s my number (called), Brandon, Devin, Earl, whoever, whenever the play is designed for you, you’ve just got to make plays,” Jeffery said.

That’s precisely what he did Saturday in leading the Bears in receiving during their 33-31 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Playing in just the first two quarters, Jeffery caught each of the three passes thrown his way, gaining a team-high 62 yards, including a 16-yard reception in the first quarter that set up a Michael Bush touchdown run, and a 34-yard grab late in the second quarter that showcased promising run-after-catch ability.

Offensive coordinator Mike Tice and receivers coach Darryl Drake rave that for Jeffery, the game has never been too big. The rookie definitely displayed that attribute against the Redskins, and even engaged in a shoving match with cornerback D’Angelo Hall, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.

“That’s just part of football; just two competitors getting at it,” the soft-spoken Jeffery explained. “At the end, the last one always gets caught. (The coaches) told me to play smarter, but at the same time be physical.”

In two preseason outings, Jeffery leads the team with seven catches for 97 yards. The next four players behind Jeffery (Brandon Marshall, Chris Summers, Evan Rodriguez, and Joe Anderson) have three catches apiece.

Considering the sheer number of catches relative to the other receivers, it’s safe to say Jeffery has gained the trust of quarterbacks Jay Cutler and backup Jason Campbell.

“Whatever the situation is, I just try to go out and play my game. Whatever it takes to do that, it doesn’t matter,” Jeffery said. “I would say practice is really tough. So in a game it comes easier.
Coach Tice always talks about being explosive, so we try to make explosive plays; try to be one of the most explosive offenses in NFL history.”

Whether that’s possible remains a mystery. What’s clear though is the Bears have a better chance of doing it with Jeffery involved than without him.


Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter

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