Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a strong initial outing for the Bears with a team-leading 4 receptions for 35 yards. His longest grab went for 14 yards. After the game, Jeffery seemed relieved and ready to move forward.
"It's always good to get that first game under your belt," Jeffery said. "I don't like the nerves that come before you take the field for the first time. It's nothing I can't handle but I like to get it over with anyway."
Although Jeffery's stats were impressive, the Bears offense as a whole struggled, unable to put any points on the board until a Robbie Gould 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Bears had eight first downs compared to the Broncos' 25. Chicago had just 132 total offensive yards, close to one third of Denver's total, and had a 0 percent efficiency in the red zone.
"I don't think we had a bad outing offensively," Jeffery said. "This is all a work in progress. What we were doing tonight is assessing what we have, then we'll go back to camp and work on those things that need to be strengthened."
WR Alshon Jeffery
Although initially trailing dramatically in time of possession, the Bears came back to within seven minutes of the Broncos, with a total TOP of 26:23.
"Obviously, you want to be as effective as possible when you have the ball," Jeffery said. "We fell down a little bit on that today. I don't want to blame the weather as the field conditions were not bad. It's up to us. We as an offense have to maximize what we are able to do in terms of moving the ball down the field against a defense as strong as the one that Denver showed us tonight."
At 6-3, 216, Jeffery brings size that should be an advantage going forward. He demonstrated that last night, using his big frame to shield off defenders.
"I do feel that I have an edge. I'm quick. I can see the field well. But that said, I need to be sure that I am where I can get the ball most effectively. I need to do my thing out there and work at getting open. That's something I'll be concentrating on between now and the start of the regular season."
What about the experience of going against NFL cornerbacks in a game day situation for the first time?
"It wasn't something I thought about too much," Jeffery said. "It was different facing players other than my teammates but not that different. This is the NFL. Everybody is going all out all of the time. Their cornerbacks want to stop me. Ours do as well when we face them in practice. At this point I am concentrating on my play. I have to be learning and absorbing every single day. How can I get better? How can I be more effective at my position?"
Although Jeffery said his confidence got a boost form his production against Denver, he still feels there's a long way to go to be an effective receiver at the professional level.
"I'll enjoy the things I did right for an hour or two but then I'll go back to concentrating on what I need to improve. There is still a large gap between where I am today and where I want to be, and can be, professionally."
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.