Alshon Jeffery, for the first time in four games, was on the field along with the Bears’ offense on Monday against the San Francisco 49ers. Not only were Chicago Bears’ fans excited about the receiver’s return, head coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice were also looking forward to having the receiver back for the remainder of the second half of the season. While Jeffery may be a first year player, the rookie receiver’s return had many feeling optimistic that the Bears’ offense will finally be able to manufacture some form of success against opposing defenses. When Jeffery has been available for the Bears, the rookie receiver has produced. So much so that he unseated Devin Hester as the team’s #2 receiver. This season with the Bears, Jeffery has 16 receptions on the season for a total of 199 yards to go along with two touchdowns. Jeffery has proved to be perfect compliment to not only starting quarterback Jay Cutler, but Brandon Marshall as well.
The optimism surrounding Jeffery will have to be put on hold once again, as the knee injury that forced the rookie receiver to exit early from Monday’s game against the 49ers has proven to be more severe than originally thought. Jeffery was seen running off the field with his teammates at the end of Monday’s game, and indicated to reporters that the injury did not appear to be too serious. Unfortunately for Jeffery and the Bears, the injury will keep the receiver sidelined for at least the next two to four weeks. Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Jeffery will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Wednesday and the receiver will miss at least the next two weeks. It is unclear how Jeffery sustained the knee injury, though one may not be wrong to suggest that this could have been a result from the receiver missing the previous four games. While Jeffery, by all accounts, has impressed the Bears’ coaching staff and teammates this season, there were questions about his conditioning when the Bears drafted him in the second round.
Regardless of how Jeffery suffered the knee injury, there is no doubt that this will be a significant blow to the offense. While the Bears’ have gone the previous four games without the rookie receiver, there was much invested in Jeffery’s return. Jeffery, during the first five games of the season, was proving not only to be a third down threat for the Bears, but a red-zone threat as well. Two areas where the Bears’ offense has struggled the most this season. In addition, Jeffery was also willing and able to go across the middle to catch passes; something that receivers Earl Bennett and Devin Hester have struggled with this season. It would appear that the Bears’ struggles on third downs and in the red-zone will continue to struggle, at least for the next two weeks while Jeffery rehabs from his knee surgery.