Bears training camp snapshot: Wide receivers

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by The Benjamin, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas
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    Oct 16, 2006
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    Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery provide QB Jay Cutler and Bears with powerful 1-2 punch

    Brandon Marshall (15) and Alshon Jeffery during catching drills at OTA practice. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune / June 3, 2014)
    By Dan Wiederer, Tribune reporter
    8:08 p.m. CDT, July 17, 2014

    Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery provide quarterback Jay Cutler and the Bears with a powerful one-two punch, and big things are expected from second-year man Marquess Wilson.

    Biggest offseason developments: The Bears gave Brandon Marshall a three-year contract extension in May that locks him up through 2017 and will pay him up to $40 million over the next four seasons. Veteran Earl Bennett was released in March.

    What to like: We will just give you the raw numbers: 189 catches, 2,712 yards, 19 touchdowns, two Pro Bowl invitations. Those were the combined stats of Marshall and Alshon Jeffery last season, eye-opening production for a franchise that never has had a receiving tandem anywhere near as explosive as this one.
    Marshall's two-season totals as a Bear are equally impressive — 218 grabs, 2,803 yards and 23 touchdowns. It was a significant move for general manager Phil Emery to get Marshall's contract situation resolved early. With the ink dried on that new contract, the Bears avoid any potential 2014 drama that could have surfaced if their top playmaker felt underappreciated or distracted by contract chatter.

    Securing Marshall through 2017 also provides reassurance for quarterback Jay Cutler, who himself is signed through 2020. Cutler now has his favorite target around for a long time to come and acknowledged his obvious satisfaction in Marshall's new deal during minicamp, adding that things "were touch-and-go there for a little while."

    "(But) the organization wanted him to stay here. Brandon wanted to stay here," Cutler said. "It was just finding that common ground. We have a great group of people — scouts, management and ownership upstairs — and when they have a good guy, they try to keep him around."

    Jeffery, meanwhile, is coming off a breakout year that established him as one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league. His combination of size, athleticism, balance and hand strength makes him a viable target even when closely covered. And that became incredibly obvious through the flurry of highlight reel grabs he made down the stretch last season.

    Said receivers coach Mike Groh: "He has elite level hand-eye coordination and body control. His extension for the ball is unmatched in my opinion. And then he has unbelievable hands. You know when you get into a very nice car, like an expensive German car, and you close the door and you feel that suction, that vacuum? That's what his hands are like."

    Preseason questions: Which of the reserve receivers can make their presence felt on special teams during the preseason?

    With Devin Hester now in Atlanta, the Bears need to find a return specialist, which opens another door for Chris Williams, Eric Weems, Armanti Edwards and Micheal Spurlock to chase a roster spot.
    Williams' speed is attention-grabbing. And at a diminutive 5 feet 8 and 175 pounds, it'll be interesting to watch throughout camp to see just how he slots into the offense as well.

    Another question worth asking: Will Marquess Wilson be challenged for the No. 3 receiver role? There's plenty of buzz that the second-year pass catcher is on the verge of becoming an important piece of the offense. He has bulked up after spending chunks of the offseason training with Marshall and Jeffery.
    Coach Marc Trestman has complimented Wilson's steadiness but has been measured with his praise overall.
    "Jay feels comfortable with him out there," Trestman said. "They communicate well together. But we're going to wait and see. We're not going to be easy on guys when they get these opportunities. They don't want to be anointed, and I certainly don't want to anoint them. They have to earn it."

    Wilson will have to earn his role by fending off competition from Josh Morgan, who's entering his seventh season with his third team.

    Twitter @danwiederer

    Currently on roster: 10

    Projected on final roster: 5-6

    Roster locks: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Marquess Wilson

    On the bubble: Chris Williams, Josh Morgan, Eric Weems, Armanti Edwards, Micheal Spurlock

    Practice squad candidate: Terrence Toliver

    Camp Depth: Josh Bellamy

    Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
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  2. soulman

    soulman Coordinator
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    Oct 14, 2004
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    Yep, I'd say the three locks will be the three starters followed by Josh Morgan as the #4 guy and I'm goin' with Williams as the #5 WR and PR/KR guy.

    I don't think there's any questions that Williams is the fastest and most dynamic return guy in that bunch and he proved both in the CFL and in OTAs that he can get open and catch the ball as a WR. I think he has the inside track and somebody is gonna have to beat him out convincingly to take the spot away from him.

    He's a little on the small side but there are others who are no bigger or even as big like the kid the Broncos have, Trindon Holliday whose 5'5" and 175lbs on a good day. So at 5'8" and 175lbs CWill isn't too small to make it. Hell Johnny Knox was a few inches taller but even he only went about 180-185lbs.

    Williams is a kid they might be able to devise a "Hester package" for that actually works. LOL

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