Alshon Jeffery will replace Lions’ Calvin Johnson in Pro Bowl
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter January 9, 2014 8:18PM
WIDE RECEIVERS (A-) Alshon Jeffery was spectacular, breaking his franchise record with 249 yards on 12 carries (20.8 ypc). He scored on catches of 80 and 46 yards. Brandon Marshall (4-45), Earl Bennett (2-17) and Martellus Bennett (2-14) were minor player
Updated: January 10, 2014 12:28AM
Alshon Jeffery was added to the Pro Bowl roster Thursday, replacing an injured Calvin Johnson and offering more proof that the Bears franchise finally has mastered the forward pass.
Jeffery and teammate Brandon Marshall will become the first pair of Bears wide receivers to play in the same NFL all-star game, which will be held Jan. 26 in Honolulu.
Whether they’re on the same team will be determined Jan. 22, when, for the first time, players will be drafted by former NFL stars Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders for their respective teams.
The ground-and-pound franchise’s evolution under quarterback guru Marc Trestman might be best expressed thusly: The Bears’ two Pro Bowl wideouts match the team’s total from 1973 to 2013.
Marshall was voted into last year’s exhibition — he didn’t play because of injury — after setting franchise highs with 118 catches and 1,508 yards. Marty Booker played in the 2003 game, breaking a 31-year-old drought dating to Dick Gordon’s 1972 appearance after the ’71 season.
Jeffery, whose inclusion came because of the Lions receiver’s right knee injury, was perceived as having been snubbed by many when he wasn’t included on the original roster last month.
In his second professional year, Jeffery finished sixth in the NFL with 1,421 receiving yards — which trail only Marshall’s 2012 mark in franchise history — and was 10th in the league with 89 receptions.
The South Carolina alum broke the Bears’ 59-year-old franchise record for receiving yards in a game — Harlon Hill’s 214 on Oct. 31, 1954 — with 218 on Oct. 6 against the Saints.
On Dec. 1 in Minneapolis, Jeffery snapped his own record with 249 yards on 12 catches.
“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 Thursday in a team release.
Marshall and Jeffery — whose 1,526 yards from scrimmage, accounting for his end-arounds, were second among receivers — will be joined by running back Matt Forte.
“I’m extremely blessed and thankful for the opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl,” Jeffery said. “I want to thank [receivers] coach [Mike] Groh, coach Trestman and the rest of my teammates for putting me in a position to succeed.”