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Bears rookie Alshon Jeffery makes favorable first impression on Mike Tice

After having his first day rookie minicamp cut short by cramp his calf AlshJeffery participated fully drills Saturday. | Nam

After having his first day of rookie minicamp cut short by a cramp in his calf, Alshon Jeffery participated fully in drills on Saturday. | Nam Y. Huh~AP

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Updated: June 14, 2012 8:32AM

In his opening practice at Bears rookie camp, second-round pick Alshon Jeffery was “picking peanuts,” according to offensive coordinator Mike Tice.

That’s not a bad thing.

As Tice explained it, Jeffery was plucking balls out of the air, above the heads of the cornerbacks.

“He’s going to have the ability for us to make plays,” Tice said.

Jeffery left practice Friday about a half-hour early because of cramping in his left calf, but he participated fully Saturday, although he didn’t look entirely comfortable.

Asked about standing out among undrafted free agents and tryout players, Jeffery said, “That’s for you all to judge,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better and compete.”

Heading into the 2011 college season, Jeffery was projected by some as a first-round pick. But after some changes to the South Carolina offense, Jeffery’s numbers suffered.

He isn’t looking back.

“I’m just here to win games for the Bears, and hopefully we can bring a championship here. That’s all I’m here to do,” he said. “What happened in college, I’m past that. I’m just here, focused on the Bears.”

For the first two days, the focus was on his calf. Jeffery said that hasn’t been an issue for him in the past.

“I just caught a cramp,” Jeffrey said.

Coach Lovie Smith said Jeffery is just sore and downplayed any concern.

Jeffery said his focus is learning the playbook, playing faster and playing with confidence.

Asked about his initial impression of his teammates, Jeffery said, “It’s a great team. I got great teammates. I’m just ready to work.”

Jeffery acknowledged that a challenge for him will be to deal with physical cornerbacks who jam him at the line of scrimmage. He also will have to adjust to the speed of the NFL.

But he has a plan:

“Go hard every day in practice and listen to my coaches and study film,” he said.

Tice said Friday that he immediately noticed Jeffery’s “explosiveness.”

“You could tell he has some ball skills,” Tice said. “That’s why we drafted him so high. You can tell that he’s going to be a playmaker for the Bears for 2012, and hopefully for many years to come.”

Added Smith: “He should be in the mix to help us win games this year.”

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