No. 2 WR Alshon Jeffery happy to be part of No. 1 receiving duo
BY PATRICK FINLEY Staff Reporter June 3, 2014 10:55PM
Updated: July 5, 2014 6:41AM
By reputation — though not last year’s statistics — Alshon Jeffery is the Bears’ No. 2 receiver.
When he speaks with the team’s No. 1, Brandon Marshall, however, the two agree that No. 2 isn’t a goal in any facet of the game.
“It’s just competitiveness,” Jeffery said Tuesday, after the fifth of 10 organized team activities at Halas Hall. “Me and [Marshall] talked earlier: Why settle for second when you can be No. 1? Who wants to be remembered as No. 2?”
At issue isn’t who is labeled the team’s top receiving threat; rather, the two want to remain the NFL’s top receiving duo for the second-straight season.
“We want to make every catch,” said Jeffery, who had 89 receptions for 1,421 yards last season. “We want to make every play.
“If I make a great catch, he’s going to say, ‘That’s a great catch.’ If he makes a great catch, I’m going to say, ‘That’s a great catch.’ ”
After signing a three-year, $30 million extension last month, Marshall — who had 1,295 yards on 100 catches last season — joked that he would push Jeffery once more: in a sprint before training camp begins.
Could Jeffery win?
“We’re gonna see,” he said with a smile.
It’s competition, not bloodsport.
Jeffery joined Marshall and other Bears players to work out in South Florida this offseason and will return to work on his speed and strength before training camp.
“It’s great for both of us,” said Jeffery, who was mentored by Marshall in South Florida in 2013 as well. “We want to be the best.
“Every year we want to be the greatest receiving corps in the league. Not just me and Brandon — we want the other guys to come along, too, with [tight end] Martellus [Bennett], [running back] Matt Forte, everybody. The whole offense.
“It’s not us. It’s the whole team.”
Second-year wideout Marquess Wilson traveled to South Florida at Marshall’s insistence, intrigued with what the regimen did for Jeffery.
“He went down with Brandon after his rookie season and came back last year and just blew up,” Wilson, the favorite to become the Bears’ third receiver, said. “If it works for him, it could work for me.”
If it does, look out.
If Wilson can improve on Earl Bennett’s 32 receptions last season, and if Marshall and Jeffery stay healthy and are more comfortable in Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s offense, the Bears could claim one of the best receiving units of all time.
Free safety M.D. Jennings, signed by the Bears after starting for the Packers last season, said Marshall and Jeffery are “without a doubt” the best receiving tandem in the game.
“I’m fortunate to go against these guys every day in practice,” he said, “and not on Sunday.”
Jeffery’s life was undoubtedly different this offseason than the last.
His breakout season — only five receivers had more yards — and his first Pro Bowl bid turned Jeffery from a soft-spoken, little-known second receiver to a household name.
Tuesday, Jeffery seemed more outgoing than last season — a necessary trait given his star status.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a star,” Jeffery said. “It’s a humbling experience. …
“At the same time, it comes with the territory. Just making plays, and just competing.”
In Jeffery parlance, that’s “putting on a show.”
He clammed up, though, when asked whether he ever let his mind wander to an extension like the one Marshall received.
“I’m not gonna talk about that,” he said. “I’m gonna talk about what I can control and that’s playing football.”
One, he knows, will take care of the other.