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Receiving corps led by Jeffery, White

Posted Jul 15, 2016

After injuries prevented them from playing together last season, receivers Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are back healthy and expected to play integral roles on the Bears offense.

The following is the third of eight position previews in advance of training camp.

OTHER POSITION PREVIEWS: Quarterbacks | Running Backs

When the Bears selected Kevin White with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft, they envisioned pairing him with Alshon Jeffery to form a dynamic receiving tandem.

Unfortunately, that never happened last year because White missed his entire rookie season with a leg injury and Jeffery was also hampered with a series of injuries.

But both are back healthy this year and are expected to play integral roles on a Bears offense that also features quarterback Jay Cutler, a group of talented young running backs led by Jeremy Langford, tight end Zach Miller and a revamped line.

Jeffery was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2012 draft. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns and followed with 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 TDs in 2014.

After appearing in all 16 games in both 2013 and 2014, Jeffery was limited to nine contests last year due to injuries to his calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder. He was productive when healthy, however, catching a team-high 54 passes for 807 yards and four touchdowns.

White, meanwhile, hopes to pick up where he left off at West Virginia in 2014 when he caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. Medically cleared to fully participate in this year's offseason program, White impressed coaches and teammates.

"I think the sky is the limit," Cutler said in June. "He's an unbelievable kid. You know that every day he comes to work he's going to give you everything he has. His demeanor on and off the field doesn't change. Physically he can do anything he wants. He's fast, he's strong, he's got good hips. He can get out of breaks. It's just a matter of him mentally getting there so that he can use all of his ability instead of thinking so much."

Jeffery and White aren't the only Bears receivers rebounding from injuries. After playing in 31 of 32 games the previous two seasons with the Chargers, veteran Eddie Royal was limited to nine contests last year in his first season with the Bears due to injuries to his hip, ankle and knee, catching 37 passes for 238 yards and one TD.

Marquess Wilson is out indefinitely after fracturing his foot last month in a minicamp practice. It's the same foot he broke last season, causing him to miss the final five games. Wilson could open the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would make him ineligible to play the first six weeks of the regular season.

Other receivers who will be vying for playing time in training camp and the preseason include Joshua Bellamy, Daniel Braverman, Marc Mariani, Cameron Meredith and Deonte Thompson.

Bellamy enters his third season with the Bears. He made the most of expanded playing time last season, appearing in all 16 games with three starts and catching 19 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns, including a 48-yarder against the Arizona Cardinals. Bellamy also ranked second on the team with 10 special-teams tackles.

Braverman was selected by the Bears in the seventh round of this year's draft out of Western Michigan. As a junior last year, he ranked second in the nation with 108 receptions for 1,367 yards and 13 TDs.

Mariani excelled last season with the Bears. Appearing in all 16 games with five starts, he established career highs with 22 receptions and 300 yards. Mariani produced first downs on 19 of his 22 catches, including all 11 on third down. He also averaged 6.1 yards on 36 punt returns and 25.8 yards on 36 kickoff returns.

Meredith joined the Bears last year as an undrafted rookie from Illinois State. He played in 11 games and caught 11 passes for 120 yards.

Thompson gave the Bears a boost on special teams late last season, averaging 29.2 yards on 14 kickoff returns with a long of 74 yards in the final seven games. His 29.2-yard average was second in the NFL among players with at least 10 kickoff returns, trailing only the Vikings' Cordarrelle Patterson (31.8). In limited action on offense, Thompson caught two passes for 81 yards, including a 45-yarder in the season finale against the Lions.

Other receivers on the Bears roster are undrafted rookies Kieren Duncan, Derek Keaton and Darrin Peterson.