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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Jeffery deserving of Pro Bowl honor

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

Chicago Bears receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are the franchise's first duo at receiver to make the Pro Bowl in the same season.

Jeffery became an injury replacement for Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

Jeffery
"I'm extremely blessed and thankful for the opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl," Jeffery said. "Thanks to all the fans for all the support this season, and I'm looking forward to playing with Brandon and [Bears running back] Matt [Forte] in Hawaii."

Jeffery's first trip to the Pro Bowl is well-deserved, obviously, and likely marks the first of many for the second-year receiver. Interestingly, Jeffery made the All-NFC North team while Marshall was snubbed, but the former didn't make the Pro Bowl initially while the latter did.

Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler campaigned hard in recent days for Jeffery to make the Pro Bowl, with Marshall conceding Tuesday during the NFL Network's "NFL AM" show that Johnson and Jeffery are ahead of him as receivers. In Jeffery's case, that's probably not yet true, considering his relative youth, not to mention Marshall's long track record of high production. But Jeffery certainly might be trending in that direction.

Jeffery finished the season ranked sixth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,421), seventh in yards from scrimmage (1,526, which also ranked No. 2 in the NFL among receivers), and 10th in receptions (89). The key moving forward for Jeffery is whether he can replicate such production.

Jeffery spent time working with Marshall last offseason to prepare for 2013. Jeffery reported to training camp with 8 percent body fat (according to Marshall) and was a much more durable player this past season than his rookie year. The plan for Jeffery is to continue working with Marshall this offseason. Cutler plans to train with the receivers in Florida, along with Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett.

"Just being from where I came from to where I am now, what I'm doing ... it's just special to be part of the success we're having as a team," Jeffery said. "I want to thank my mama and my family. I'm going to continue to make you all proud."