Jeffery breaks loose in Bears' passing game

Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall goes high to make a reception. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both have more than 1,000 receiving yards. CHRIS SWEDA / Cicago Tirbune / MCT
Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall goes high to make a reception. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both have more than 1,000 receiving yards. CHRIS SWEDA / Cicago Tirbune / MCT
Posted: December 20, 2013

LAKE FOREST, Ill. - Brandon Marshall has almost 1,200 receiving yards for Chicago this season to go along with 10 touchdowns as he seeks his fifth career Pro Bowl appearance. He also has been overshadowed.

Second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery has eclipsed Marshall in his second season in Chicago with 1,265 receiving yards and seven touchdowns, including highlight-reel scores in Chicago's last three games. The receiving combination is one of the main reasons the Bears are on the verge of rewriting their team offensive record book and in position to win the NFC North.

The receiving tandem will test the Eagles on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Jeffery, a second-round pick out of South Carolina in 2012, has put up statistics unheard of in the history of one of the NFL's charter franchises. He established a team record with 249 receiving yards on Dec. 1 at Minnesota. Whose record did he break? His own, when he put up 218 yards against New Orleans in October.

Not only have the individual statistics been gaudy, his athleticism has left jaws on the floor. On Sunday at Cleveland, he was sandwiched between two defenders but still managed to bring in a Jay Cutler pass for a 45-yard gain in the fourth quarter of a 38-31 victory.

"We always talk about just throwing it up and giving me a chance," Jeffery told reporters after the game. "I just try to make the best of the opportunity."

Jeffery and Marshall have both gone 1,000 yards, marking just the second time in Bears history that two receivers have done that.

Chicago coach Marc Trestman also likes to deploy the reverse with Jeffery, leading to 105 rushing yards in 16 attempts.

No one appears happier for Jeffery than Marshall, who missed practice Wednesday with a sore quadriceps, but Trestman said it was just a precautionary measure.

Marshall advocated for Jeffery to be a Pro Bowl selection on Wednesday. He remembered that Jeffery was seeking that honor last year as a rookie.

That type of confidence may have had some veterans saying Jeffery was "ridiculous," but Marshall saw it another way. "You have to dream big," he said. "If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will. I respect him a lot for that, and that says a lot about that guy."

Jeffery's ascension has not come without some concerns. Trestman was not pleased about some penalties, including two infractions on Sunday.

However, the first-year coach sensed from the start of the season that he might have a special player in his arsenal. "We saw this in practice," Trestman noted. "We saw his work ethic. You hope players like that will carry what they do in practice out into the field because that is where you really find out. That's what he has done."

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