Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) walks off the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
It bears repeating: Chicago Bear Wide Receivers not named Marshall need to step up. Namely rookie Alshon Jeffery and veteran Devin Hester.
"Alshon's a beast" fellow wide receiver Brandon Marshall said. "This guys going to be a pro bowl receiver sooner than later."
The Bears would prefer sooner.Jeffery hasn't remained healthy enough to contribute consistently. Last Sunday's return from knee surgery came with mixed results: A touchdown, but also a costly drop in the endzone. He finished with three catches for 57 yards.
"I'm not concerned about playing with Alshon" Marshall added. "He's a special talent, he's special."
Jeffery may have his health issues, but Hester can check out emotionally.
In Minnesota he returned from a concussion to line up in the slot and caught five balls for 39 yards. But Hester too, had a critical third down drop late in the fourth quarter.
Keeping Hester in the game mentally -- he often gets down on himself after drops and miscues -- may be more of a challenge than keeping Jeffrey healthy.
"I think you just reinforce him he's still 'our guy' he's still a guy we're relying on to make big plays" Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. "Can't let him go down that path and think he doesn't mean much to this offense".
This year, his 7th in the league, Hester has 970 combined yards receiving and returning. But offensively he's managed just 242 yards through 13 games in 2012.
"Everyone goes through slumps" Lovie Smith said of Hester "he just needs to hang in there and we'll keep feeding him the ball".
If the Bears are going anywhere they'll need Jeffery and Hester to make plays Sunday against Green Bay.