Bears WR Alshon Jeffery healthy, fiery after loss
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HOUSTON — Alshon Jeffery’s march to a multi-year extension began Sunday with a sprint down the right sideline, an easy leap against single coverage and a gain of 54 yards.
His impact on the rest of the Bears, though, was measured by what he told his teammates afterward.
The Bears and Texans took back-to-back timeouts after the play with 13 seconds left in the first half. Jeffery, having seen the way the Texans’ safeties were rolling toward him, walked into the huddle and told Jay Cutler what was going to happen on the next play: the safety would shade to help cover him, and Eddie Royal would be open down the seam for a 19-yard touchdown.
“That’s exactly what happened,” the quarterback said after the Bears’ season-opening 23-14 loss. “That’s just kinda the dude he is — he’s a team guy, he wants to win. Whether he’s catching the ball or someone else, he just wants to get the W.”
The Bears were reminded Sunday just how much a healthy Jeffery could help in his prove-it year.
“They’ve got some pretty good guys in the secondary, but also, I feel that I don’t give a damn who’s out there, who they got on the other side,” an unusually animated Jeffery said. “Ain’t nobody can stop us but us. …
“That’s how I feel all the time. That’s how all our receivers feel. I don’t give a damn who out there. We’re stopping ourselves. Ain’t nothing they did special.”
He caught four passes for 105 yards, including the 54-yarder near the end of the first half. He leapt with safety Andre Hal positioned meekly between him and the end zone, and came down at the 19.
That the Bears even tried to throw deep on first-and-20 from their own 27 with 24 seconds left in the half — rather than run the ball and jog to the locker room — shows the impact of Jeffery’s talent.
“I just pumped one high and far,” Cutler said, “and Al did the rest.”
Jeffery made mistakes, too. He was held without a catch on two targets in the second half, the result of the Texans sending safety help. His drop on third-and-6 late in the third quarter — a catch would have kept the drive alive — was, in retrospect, a sizable body blow to the Bears’ chances.
“They made some adjustments,” Jeffery said. “We have to make adjustments. We gotta do better.”
Still, Jeffery seemed thrilled to be back healthy. After missing seven games last year because of soft tissue damage, he’s trying to state his case for a long-term deal after the Bears decided against it in the offseason.The team instead gave him a one-year franchise tag worth $14.599 million. Jeffery wasn’t thrilled — he trained on his own in Florida until reporting for mandatory minicamp — but the Bears’ unspoken message was clear: prove your worth to us this year.
Jeffery doesn’t like talking about the contract chase. Finally healthy Sunday, his play was loud enough.
“It feels great,” Jeffery said. “But at the end of the day, I want to win. I could care less about anything. Nothing else matters.”