For most of the past several seasons, Bears wide receivers were the objects of a steady stream of doubts at best, building to an occasional tidal wave of criticism.
They didnt like it. Understandable. Johnny Knox, for instance, didnt like losing a starting job in training camp to the likes of Mike Martz favorite Roy Williams before the team had played even a preseason game last year.
So how will the chemistry and collective mood be this year after the organization invested draft choices and money in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery?
They don't fear anybody. Why would they? said receivers coach Darryl Drake. I promise you, Devin Hester is not reading press clippings about Alshon Jeffery, but I bet Alshon Jeffery is reading press clippings about Devin Hester.
Devin Hester doesn't give a crap. He just wants to go out there and play.
That will have to be earned.
Hester, Knox, Earl Bennett, Dane Sanzenbacher none have caught more than the 57 Hester collected in 2009. Marshall has had no fewer than the 81 he had last season as a Miami Dolphin.
None of the returning Bears receivers were drafted higher than the 57th-overall slot for Hester in 2006, and that was as a returnercornerback. Jeffery was the 45th-overall pick in the draft last month.
Theres some depth, Drake said. The guys have got to fight. Competition breeds success and I really do believe weve got some competition around here.
If you want to play, go out and make plays, do things the right way, and when the balls in the air, go get it.