Alshon Jeffery back but limited; status for Sunday unknown

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Alshon Jeffery returned to practice after missing four weeks with a calf strain. Jeffery caught 10 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown against the Packers last season. (Tasos Katopodis/Sun-Times media)

Back on the field after missing four weeks with a mild calf strain, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was unsure of whether he’ll play against the Packers on Sunday. But he was resolute that his extended absence was not about his contract.

“My contract situation [had] nothing to do with it. That will take care of itself,” said Jeffery, a 2013 Pro Bowl player who is due for an extension in the final year of his rookie deal. “I wasn’t practicing because I was injured. If any of you guys [reporters] ever had a calf injury, you would know.”

Jeffery was limited in practice and not in full pads Wednesday — the first time he’s practiced since he suffered the injury on Aug. 12 in Bourbonnais. Coach John Fox was encouraged. But Jeffery’s status for the season opener still is unknown.

“I thought it went well. Our training staff felt he did well,” Fox said. “We’ll see how he feels [Thursday]. But it was encouraging to see him out there running routes.”

After missing four weeks, there are health issues, conditioning issues and of course timing issues with quarterback Jay Cutler to consider.

“All of the above,” Fox said when asked what he has to see for Jeffery to play. “First of all he’s got to be healthy. He hasn’t been out there for some time and based on what I saw today, mentally he’s on top of it and physically he looks like he’s gaining ground.”

Jeffery, still not a man of many words, said he felt “pretty good” and has been “progressing every day,” but gave no indication of whether he will play against the Packers.

“We just set it one day at a time,” Jeffery said. “Whatever the trainers and coaches say, we’re going to roll with that.”

Jeffery’s prolonged absence likely fed reports about his contract. He was “day-to-day” for a month and did not play in the preseason. Jeffery said he did not have a setback during his recovery. The Bears gave no explanation for the extended duration of Jeffery’s absence.

“I didn’t expect it to linger this long, but it happens,” Jeffery said. “It’s something you’ve got to deal with and just move on and keep getting better every day.

Jeffery said his chemistry with Cutler after three seasons is good. But he would not say whether he thinks he could make an immediate impact when he returns.

“When I get back on the field, I’ll let you be the  judge of that,” he said.

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