Bears: Competition from Jeffery keeping Marshall sharp

Bears: Competition from Jeffery keeping Marshall sharp
May 22, 2014, 4:45 pm
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Who's faster, the 30-year-old established Pro Bowler or the 24-year-old budding star?

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will race each other prior to training camp to find out. It's just one aspect of a competitive relationship between the two Bears receivers that Marshall said has made a hugely positive impact on his career.

"He's going to extend my career, he's extended my career," Marshall said. "I'm not going to let this young kid beat me. I want to beat him in every single sprint. I want to beat him to the facility in the morning. We challenge each other, we push each other."

Jeffery broke out with the Bears in 2013, earning a Pro Bowl bid with 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. Combine that with Marshall's 100 catches, 1,295 yards and 12 touchdowns and the Bears had as good a 1-2 receiver punch as anybody in the NFL.

[MORE: Marshall wants to secure a legacy in Chicago]

With Marshall signing a three-year, $30 million contract extension and Jeffery not due to hit free agency until 2016, that partnership will continue as the Bears enter a critical window to contend for a Super Bowl.

Wide receivers generally hit their prime around age 26, begin a gradual decline at age 30 and see a sharp dropoff in production at age 35, according to Pro Football Focus. If that holds true, Jeffery's due to hit his prime in the coming years. Even if Marshall tails off a bit as he enters his 30s, it may not be significant — and he may not at all in the face of some stiff internal competition.



And then, as Marshall's contract nears its end, Jeffery could be in line for the next big payday.

"We can't crown him right now — you have to be consistent, you have to stay healthy — he has all the potential in the world if he can stay humble, that's what got him here," Marshall said. "So if he can do that, he'll set himself up to secure his family and give him some stability."