Alshon Jeffery finding his niche

Bears second-round wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has flashed serious potential in training camp. Bear Report correspondent Beth Gorr goes one-on-one with the rookie out of South Carolina.

The Chicago Bears have long been searching for a young wide receiver that could anchor the passing attack. They may have found that player in second rounder Alshon Jeffery.

Jeffery (6-3, 215) is a lanky player with deceptive speed. He has shown solid hands and an ability out-leap defenders when the ball is in the air. On deep passes, he does very well adjusting to the ball and he's dangerous in the red zone.

As a complement to Brandon Marshall, Jeffery could be a huge weapon in Chicago's offense as early as this year.

Bear Report correspondent Beth Gorr goes one-on-one with the rookie out of South Carolina.

"I've been having a great time here in camp so far. Just about every day I am mentally thanking my college coaches. They prepared me really well for what was to come at the NFL level, at least this far.

"I went to South Carolina, which is in one of the best football conferences in the country. Of course the players there think it is the best conference. We think the SEC has the fastest players in the country but in the NFL things go even quicker.

"What I learned at South Carolina was how to function under pressure. I know how to concentrate on the game even when there are thousands of fans making all kinds of noise in a stadium. I can deconstruct plays rapidly in my mind then recreate them on the field. I learned how to maximize my strengths as far as talent is concerned, and to play as a contributing part of a team.

WR Alshon Jeffery
Brian Kersey/Getty

"That isn't to say there is nothing left for me to learn. In fact, that is far from the actual situation right now. I think that any rookie is faced with the vast amount of things he doesn't know about football. Our playbook is large and complex. We need to learn that almost immediately. We need to understand how things unfold on an NFL field. The tempo is much quicker and the intensity is enormous.

"But where I think my background has helped significantly is that I have learned how to keep things under control when I am playing. I don't panic. I am able to see things unfold on the field, then react appropriately.

"I've been asked if I feel pressure since I was a high draft pick. I think every rookie will tell you that he feels pressure during his first few weeks at camp. You want to succeed. You want to show the coaches that you will be valuable to the team, that they didn't make a mistake in picking you.

"So yes, I do feel pressure, but it's nothing I haven't seen before and can't handle now. It's up to my coaches to let me know how I'm doing. I just go out there every day and try to get better.

"The veterans have been extremely helpful in letting me acclimate to the system. They are available if I have a question or need something specific demonstrated. But that doesn't mean there's no rookie hazing. I've been carrying a lot of pads after practice recently. The other night I had to get up in the cafeteria and sing. I picked the song; it was "Lean on Me." I wasn't great but I wasn't terrible so that's something I guess. Some guys were worse than I was. I take comfort in that.

"What I've found in the NFL is that we all try to learn from each other. Guys who are big stars, guys who are brand new, are communicating all the time. For example, I go to Devin [Hester] or he comes to talk to me. I go talk to Brandon [Marshall] or he comes over and tells me something. We discuss strategies and effective methods to make plays.

"These guys have a lot of knowledge and so much to teach me. I'm trying to soak it all in as quickly as possible. Even standing on the sidelines watching them is an education. They're so good that often I'm amazed to see what they can do.

"It was great to be at Soldier Field the other night for practice. I was impressed that so many fans took the time to come out and see us. The energy was electric and the noise level was intense. It looks like a great place to play football. The vets have told me that once the season starts the noise level will increase dramatically. It really adds to your energy when the fans are loud. I can't wait for that to happen.

"There was so much excitement last Friday but nothing compared to what I am expecting for the first exhibition game this week. It'll be a real learning experience. We're prepping now, preparing ourselves for what's coming. Being at Soldier Field reminded me how much I love this game. I'm so ready to go out and play some NFL football."

Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.

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