Chicago Bears position preview: Alshon Jeffery headlines deep group of WRs

The Chicago Bears begin training camp July 30 on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois.

Leading up to the first practice, we’ll break down the roster, position by position. We next move to wide receiver where the Bears boast a deep group, despite an offseason trade that sent Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets.

The cast: Alshon Jeffery (4th season), Eddie Royal (8th season), Kevin White (1st season), Marquess Wilson (3rd season), Marc Mariani (6th season), Joshua Bellamy (4th season), John Chiles (1st season), Rashad Lawrence (1st season), Cameron Meredith (1st season), Levi Norwood (1st season), Ify Umodu (1st season).

Key number: Jeffery became the fourth player in Bears history to record consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, joining Marty Booker, Curtis Conway and Marshall.

For starters: Jeffery worked hard in the offseason to prove he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, and convince the Bears he is worthy of a long-term contract. Jeffery, who’s only under contract through 2015, is just the fifth player in franchise history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons (2013, 14). The former second-round pick finished 2014 with 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Bears provided Jeffery with plenty of front-line help at receiver; signing veteran Royal to a three-year, $15 million contract with $10 million guaranteed, and drafting West Virginia’s White at No. 7 overall. Wilson, a 2013 seventh-round choice, is expected to be in the game day rotation.

Backup plan: There is plenty of depth at wide receiver. In the event Jeffery is injured, White (6-foot-3) and Wilson (6-foot-4) have the height to cause serious problems for opponents. Royal is a perfect slot receiver. The veteran caught 62 balls for 778 yards and seven touchdowns last year as a member of the San Diego Chargers; and back in Denver in 2008, Royal connected with Jay Cutler for 91 receptions and 980 receiving yards. Return specialist Mariani has only five career catches.

Bottom line: The Bears are four deep at wide receiver, not including tight end Martellus Bennett who hauled in 90 passes last season.

Next: Tight end