Receiver Alshon Jeffery was back with the Bears Monday after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The fifth-year pro is now eligible to practice and play in the final three games of the season, beginning Sunday when the Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field.
"It's good to have him back," coach John Fox said Monday. "Our strength and conditioning people, I'm sure they'll get a pretty good idea of where he is conditioning-wise, which I'm sure he'll be in tip-top shape. And then the coaches will get their hands on him Wednesday [when the Bears practice for the first time this week]."
Receiver Alshon Jeffery was back with the Bears Monday after serving a four-game suspension.
Playing under the franchise tag this season, Jeffery has caught 40 passes for 630 yards in nine games. He has just one 100-yard outing and one touchdown, but he'll still provide a major boost to an injury-depleted receiving corps.
Kevin White is out for the season with a fractured fibula, Eddie Royal is sidelined with a toe injury and Marquess Wilson is out with a groin injury. The Bears' four active receivers Sunday in Detroit were Cameron Meredith, Deonte Thompson, Joshua Bellamy and Daniel Braverman—not exactly the quartet that anyone envisioned when the season began.
Jeffery was "reintroduced" to his teammates at a meeting Monday morning at Halas Hall and spent the rest of the day getting reacquainted.
"It was good to have one of the leaders on the team and in our position group back in the locker room," Meredith said. "At first he was kind of shy and wasn't saying much. But throughout the day he kind of opened up and was glad to be back.
"It's been awhile since he's been in the building, talked to us. We were able to hang out after we got done with [lifting weights], catch up on stuff. Anytime you come back around friends and teammates, it's always a good thing."
The Bears went 1-3 without Jeffery. In all three losses, they had a chance to take the lead on their final drive but failed to do so. Against the Titans and Lions, they turned the ball over on downs in the last minute after their young receivers dropped passes.
Jeffery played briefly with new Bears quarterback Matt Barkley late in a Week 7 loss in Green Bay, but they did not connect on a completion. Asked how quickly he feels the two can develop chemistry, Fox said: "Hopefully fast, like this week."
"We're playing a pretty good team here at our place," Fox said of Sunday's rematch against the Packers. "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 [Cutler] got hurt and we put Brian [Hoyer] in, there was an adjustment for everybody and it will be an adjustment for Alshon with Matt."
Meredith, who has caught passes from all three Bears quarterbacks this season, isn't worried about Jeffery and Barkley developing a rapport.
"I don't think it should take too long," Meredith said. "Matt does a good job working with all of us, getting us on the same page and trying to make plays as best you can. We're going to put time in after practice, get some extra reps, so I think that will help us out."
Meredith doesn't expect Jeffery to have too much rust to knock off after his four-game layoff.
"He looks great," Meredith said. "He was in shape. I know he's mentally focused, mentally ready. I'm not sure exactly what he did while he was gone, but it looks like he's ready to go. He watched all the games and stayed in it while he was out."