By Adam Hoge-
BOURBONNAIS (CBS) Unlike many NFL wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery doesn’t say much. Instead, he lets his play on the field do the talking.
The rookie wide receiver from South Carolina originally had first-round grades in the NFL Draft, but slipped to the Bears in the second round because of concerns about his weight that so far look completely unfounded.
The weight rumors never seemed to make sense, but Jeffery isn’t the kind of guy who would go out of his way to convince a team otherwise. He’s a tight-lipped, humble kid who certainly doesn’t fit the mold of so many NFL wide receivers who have no problem telling the world how good they are.
Instead, the Bears coaching staff is telling the world.
“Since OTAs he has made play after play and made progress in every situation we have put him in,” head coach Lovie Smith said after Monday night’s practice at Olivet Nazarene University. “He’ll be one of our guys this year. I think it’s safe to say that … Alshon Jeffery should be an exciting player to watch.”
Praise like that for a rookie doesn’t come too often from Smith, so wide receivers coach Darryl Drake explained why the head coach is being so open about his new offensive weapon.
“Because he’s got an awful lot of ability and the stage is not too big for him,” Darryl said. “He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s got a lot of size and he has outstanding hands. We like him. We like him as football player and we like him as a person. And as he continues to grow and mature, I think he’ll only get better.”
In Jeffery’s case, it’s his humble silence that may have cost him in the NFL Draft as he’s not the kind of personality who would wow an NFL team during interview sessions. But for the Bears — an organization that rarely puts up with players with character issues — that’s likely what caught their eye. They traded up in the second round to take Jeffery 45th overall.
Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice even said Monday that Jeffrey is so quiet he’ll sometimes ask him during practice if he’s OK.
But Jeffery always is. And in the Bears case, they’re perfectly fine with the rookie wowing them on the field rather than in the interview room.
Tice said Jeffery “dominated physically” and “threw people around” in the Bears first preseason game when he caught four passes for 35 yards.
The Bears offensive coordinator was unhappy that most of his offense failed to bring practice techniques to the playing field last week against the Broncos, but Jeffery was one of the few who did. After missing most of mini-camp in June, Jeffery has had a great training camp and looks like a legitimate NFL wide receiver so far. But will it translate to the regular season?
“I believe with that young man, it will translate,” Tice said. “I think we can all see that. He’s a big physical specimen. He played in the SEC against great competition. The speed of the game is not too big for him. He’s played in front of big crowds before. He’s very calm. Doesn’t get over excited.”
Tice lights up when he talks about using Jeffery in the red zone. The Bears have shown formations in practice that include Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery lining up on opposite sides and running fade routes to their respective corners. Many NFL teams don’t have one cornerback who can guard the back shoulder fade in the end zone, let alone two.
And Tice was quick to point out that Jeffery won four state championships in basketball.
“Just throw the ball up to him and let him get it,” he said.
So how is Jeffery feeling with all the attention in a big city like Chicago?
“I wouldn’t say I have all the attention, but I’m doing pretty good,” he said.
That’s pretty much all you are going to get from him off the field. On the field, however, you can expect a whole lot more.
For more Bears coverage, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.