So many weeks of the Bears’ 3-10 season have been marked by player exits from the stage, whether for injury or suspension. The games now may mean little overall because of the Bears being eliminated from playoff possibilities but the impending return of one of those players – wide receiver Alshon Jeffery – suddenly adds a level of significance to next Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
Jeffery was suspended four games on Nov. 14 for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing drugs and is eligible to return this week after being barred from even being in the building while under suspension. He was at Halas Hall on Monday, with coach John Fox “re-introducing” the veteran wideout and team co-captain to the team.
The real introduction, however, will come when Jeffery begins working with quarterback Matt Barkley, whose run as Bears starting quarterback began during Jeffery’s absence. Jeffery resumes playing for his next contract -- “I think he has a pretty good understanding” of what the next three weeks mean, Fox said – and at the same time gives Barkley an opportunity to operate the offense with one of its biggest weapons after working primarily with receivers no higher than No. 4 on the depth chart. Eddie Royal played 12 snaps in the Tennessee game, Barkley’s first NFL start, but has been inactive the past two weeks.
Barkley has developed chemistry with backups Josh Bellamy, Cam Meredith, Deonte Thompson and Daniel Braverman, with the goal now to develop something with Jeffery “hopefully fast, like this week,” Fox said. “We’re playing a pretty good team here at our place. Obviously we have to work on it.
“The passing game is timing and precision. Alshon knows our offense. It’s not like he’s new to it. This will be his third quarterback throwing to him and even that’s not different. When Jay got hurt and we put Brian in there was an adjustment for everybody and it will be an adjustment for Alshon with Matt.”