The Bears finally got their coveted big receiver this offseason. Actually, they got two—Jay Cutler's old No. 1 from Denver, Brandon Marshall (via trade), and former South Carolina jump-ball specialist Alshon Jeffery (after trading up in the second round of the draft). From the sounds of Cutler's comments about Jeffery, only Marshall will be making a big impact at the beginning of the season.
All spring, while Jeffery was battling cramps in the team's rookie minicamp, all we heard from the Bears about their wide receivers was that Devin Hester was their most outstanding wideout in OTAs. Really, this year was going to be the year for Hester to break out as more than a return man. The skeptical (and likely correct) response was that, in reality, Hester was just keeping Jeffery's spot warm for him.
When Cutler spoke to season ticket holders in a conference call Tuesday night, he did say Jeffery was "great" in the offseason, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. The more operative statement about Jeffery from Cutler was "less is more." Less snaps, that is, equal more impact.
Cutler said Jeffery's role at the start will involve "not a lot of thinking." He went a step further and stated that Jeffery's natural ability to "go up and get the ball, get out of breaks quick" would be the focus, and reiterated that the team would "find ways where he doesn't have to think much."
Reading between the lines, we shouldn't expect to see Jeffery start until he can execute plays where he does have to think. Judging by Cutler's emphasis of the need to put Jeffery in situations that don't require on-the-fly analysis, that might not be until 2013.