Marc Trestman didn't expect second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery to have such a remarkable 2013 season, but the Bears coach certainly isn't surprised.
Jeffery has produced the two most prolific games by a receiver in franchise history with 249 yards on 12 catches against the Vikings and 218 yards on 10 receptions versus the Saints. The previous team record of 214 yards by Harlon Hill had stood since 1954.
"We saw this in practice," Trestman said. "We saw his work ethic and we saw him making plays in practice, [but] you never really know. You're not tackling in practice. You're in shorts most of the time. You don't know that this is going to happen.
"You don't really envision it. You hope that players like that will carry what they do in practice out on the field because that's where you really find out and that's what he's done. There were no predictions here or no envisioning of how it would be.
"I'm sure he had a vision of how it would be and that's the most important thing in what he was going to do when he got on the field. But we just went at it to allow him to do the things in the game that he's done in practice, and that's what we try to do each week."
Jeffery is one of eight receivers in NFL history to record two 200-yard games in the same season. His 1,265 yards are the fourth most in Bears annals behind Brandon Marshall (1,508 in 2012), Marcus Robinson (1,400 in 1999) and Jeff Graham (1,301) in 1995.
After the Bears traded up to select Jeffery in the second round of the 2012 draft, he caught 24 passes for 367 yards in 10 games as a rookie. His 1,632 career yards are the third most by a player in his first two seasons with the team behind only Mike Ditka (1,980) and Hill (1,913).
Jeffery has made spectacular touchdown catches in the Bears' last three games. Last Sunday with his team trailing the Browns 24-17, Jeffery hauled in a 45-yard TD pass on third-and-11. It appeared that safety Tashaun Gipson was in perfect position to record his third interception of the game. But Jay Cutler's pass sailed over Gipson to Jeffery, who plucked it out of the air and dove into the end zone.
"[Jeffery] has a confidence about himself," Marshall said. "I remember last year, we sat down and talked about goals at the beginning of the season and his goal was to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Some older guys would look at that kid like 'you're ridiculous.' I looked at it and I said, 'Hey, I've got that same attitude. You've got to dream big. If you don't believe in yourself, nobody will. I respected him a lot for that."