Friday, November 2, 2012
One of top rookie WRs awaits Bears
By Jeff Dickerson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Before Alshon Jeffery fractured his right hand on Oct. 7, Sunday's game in Nashville was scheduled to feature two of the top rookie receivers from the 2012 NFL draft class.
The Titans' Kendall Wright leads rookie receivers with 40 catches this season.
The Chicago Bears look as if they got a steal with Jeffery in the second round (No. 45). He still ranks second on the club in receiving yards (184) and touchdowns (2) and third in receptions (14) despite sitting out the past two games. Jeffery has yet to return to practice, but the hope is the Bears can get him back on the field in the near future when the team's schedule begins to toughen up.
The Tennessee Titans are likely equally as pleased with their rookie wideout Kendall Wright, who was selected 25 spots in front of Jeffery at No. 20 overall in the first round.
With Robert Griffin III at quarterback, Wright put up monster numbers in college at Baylor, catching 108 passes for 1,663 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season. That success didn't prevent certain analysts from wondering whether Wright's production was more a product of the Baylor system rather than the individual player.
Even after Wright ran a sub-par 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, a time he later improved upon at the Baylor Pro Day, Tennessee still believed that Wright represented the best receiver left on the board when at No. 20. Wright was the third receiver chosen after Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (No. 5 overall) and Notre Dame's Michael Floyd (No. 13).
Like Jeffery in Chicago, Wright has been able to jump in immediately and make an impact in the Titans' offense. He leads all rookies with 40 receptions and is second in rookie receiving yards (351) behind Cleveland's Josh Gordon.
"We thought he was a heck of a football player (coming out of school)," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He's from back in my home area (Mount Pleasant, Texas), so I knew quite a bit about him. He's played well in the league. The same things we saw in his college video he's doing in the league. Good quickness, has a great vertical, so he can catch the football. I knew they are very pleased with him so we'll have to deal with him."