Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery knows he can’t drop bomb vs. Packers
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
Alshon Jeffery must step up against the Packers if Brandon Marshall is blanketed. | Getty Images
As frustrating as the season has been at times for rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery — from a broken hand to knee surgery to a big drop Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings — he said he keeps a smile on his face.
“There’s a lot of people going through a lot worse things,” Jeffery said. “There’s some people who never get to play sports. I’m just happy.”
That said, Jeffery knows what the Bears and quarterback Jay Cutler expect from him, especially with the Green Bay Packers coming to Soldier Field on Sunday. He has to be the No. 2 option the Bears desperately need in the passing game, especially if the Packers shut down Brandon Marshall like they did in Week 2.
Marshall has accounted for 49 percent of the Bears’ receiving yards. Cutler, though, has shown that he also trusts Jeffery.
“He has faith in me if he’s throwing the ball up,” Jeffery said. “It’s just me making a play no matter who’s covering me or who’s on me. You just got to go out there and make the play. Like what Brandon always says, ‘We’ve got to make him look good.’ ”
Jeffery said he believes he has developed some chemistry with Cutler, but it remains “a work in progress.”
“We’re still trying to figure each other out,” he said.
Cutler went deep to Jeffery against the Vikings late in the third quarter. But despite adjusting well to the pass, Jeffery failed to catch what would’ve been a 39-yard touchdown.
It was Jeffery’s first game back after missing two because of arthroscopic knee surgery. Jeffery, who missed four games earlier in the season with the broken hand, had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings.
“He was a little rusty, and it’s expected,” Cutler said. “But I haven’t lost any faith in Alshon. He’s still going to be one of our go-to guys. He’s got to be the guy opposite [Marshall] and give him help.”
The Packers primarily used two-man coverage to hold Marshall to two catches and 24 yards in the Bears’ 23-10 loss Sept. 13. If they roll extra coverage his way again, Marshall said the Bears will lean on Jeffery.
“Alshon is a beast,” Marshall said. “This guy is going to be a Pro Bowl receiver sooner than later. . . . I love playing with him.”
Jeffery doesn’t think his injuries have hurt his development, but he said he’s still learning. So he studies Marshall. At 6-4 and 6-3, respectively, Marshall and Jeffery rely on positioning more than speed.
There are personality differences. Jeffery said Marshall is more of an “aggressive type” while he’s more “laid-back.” But there’s a strong bond.
‘‘[Marshall] tells me to just go out there and be an athlete and make plays and continue to work hard and just continue to watch him,” Jeffery said. “He’s been great. He’s a Pro Bowl player to keep learning from.”