NFC North Q&A: Can Alshon Jeffery rise to top-five receiver status?

Today’s question: Alshon Jeffery is one of the top all-time receivers in Bears history, but he played in only nine games last season because of injuries. After signing his franchise-tag tender, Jeffery stayed away from the Bears’ voluntary offseason program to train in South Florida. Do you think Jeffery will overcome his injury problems and play like a top-five receiver in 2016?

Rob Demovsky, Green Bay Packers reporter: It’s probably not fair to call Jeffery injury-prone because he played in all 16 games in 2013 and 2014. But he needs to bounce back from last year’s injury-riddled season that finished with him on injured reserve. The bigger issue/distraction might be his contract situation. Skipping the voluntary portion of the offseason program after signing the $14.6 million franchise tender doesn’t exactly send the best message, even if he was working out diligently on his own. And if Kevin White can come back from his own injury issues, then perhaps the Bears wouldn’t need Jeffery to play like a top-five receiver.

Mike Rothstein, Detroit Lions reporter: If he’s healthy, he’s got a shot. His numbers last year were skewed by injury, but if you project them over a full season, he would have had 1,435 yards –- good enough for sixth in the league and ahead of Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green and Demaryius Thomas. While he won’t have Brandon Marshall or Matt Forte or Martellus Bennett to provide cushion from double-teams anymore, he does have last year’s first-round pick, Kevin White. If White plays to a decent level in his first true NFL season, that should provide enough attention for defenses to not double-team Jeffery all that much. And then it’s about his health. Before last season, he played in every game in 2014 and 2013. So history would say he has a chance -- and if he does, watch out.

Ben Goessling, Minnesota Vikings reporter: If he doesn’t, the Bears are going to be in for a world of trouble on offense. Kevin White could give the offense a big boost if he’s healthy, but he’s still effectively a rookie in terms of game experience. There’s no Matt Forte and no Martellus Bennett. It’s easy to envision Jay Cutler resorting to jump balls for Jeffery, and if Jeffery is healthy, he could easily be the most dominant receiver in the division. That title is up for grabs, with the retirement of Calvin Johnson retiring and Jordy Nelson coming back from a torn ACL, and Jeffery can be the player teams dread if he stays on the field. The Bears certainly are counting on him to do that in 2016.