Bears expect Alshon Jeffery to keep up feats of 2013
BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter August 20, 2014 9:45PM
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Updated: September 22, 2014 12:34PM
Two preseason games had passed last year without much from Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and it was worrisome. His one catch for 13 yards didn’t support the glowing declarations that fellow receiver Brandon Marshall and others had confidently made about his future stardom.
Plenty of smoke, but no fire.
Five scoring drives by the Bears’ starters in the first half of their next game against the Oakland Raiders changed that. Jeffery’s star flashed with seven catches on eight targets for 77 yards.
‘‘I was just working hard every day in practice,’’ a reflective Jeffery said.
Flash forward to Wednesday, when Jeffery was one of several Pro Bowl players coming off the field. The Bears are counting on him not just to repeat last season’s success — 89 catches, 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns — but to better it.
After all, Jeffery can’t truly be an NFL star unless his success becomes a yearly occurrence.
‘‘He’s done it for one year,’’ coach Marc Trestman said. ‘‘He knows he’s got to prove himself, [that] he’s got to stack years and years together to be a great player, like Brandon has. He’s certainly confident he can do it. He knows he can compete at this level and compete at a high level.’’
A formidable foe awaits Jeffery in Seattle on Friday. The Seahawks’ secondary is widely considered the NFL’s best, with big and brash cornerback Richard Sherman arguably the best at his position. There won’t be much game-planning, but a one-on-one matchup against Sherman should be revealing for Jeffery.
‘‘We’ll see after the game, and then I could tell you [where I am],’’ Jeffery said. ‘‘For now, I’m just worried about our game plan and playing Chicago Bears football.’’
That’s a complicated brand of football that Jeffery speaks about more confidently after his wildly successful 2013 and another training camp and preseason spent excelling in it. When it comes down to it, quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears are confident Jeffery can out-leap any defensive back for a catch.
‘‘He knows what he can do on the field, and he’s a hard worker,’’ Cutler said. ‘‘It’s just in him. It’s just keeping him healthy now and trying to keep him engaged in the offense.’’
Jeffery’s work ethic was considered a concern when he taken with the 45th overall pick in 2012. That’s a far-fetched worry now. He seems more confident with his blossoming stardom every time he talks.
‘‘The sky’s the limit for this offense,’’ he said.
And it’s the sky where he does his most exciting work.
‘‘We’re excited to see where he goes with this,’’ Trestman said. ‘‘If you could see him work here on a daily basis, he’s doing all the right things to put another good year together.’’