Jay Cutler thinks Alshon Jeffery can be a true No. 1 NFL wide receiver

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- In a contract year, Alshon Jeffery is doing everything in his power to convince the Chicago Bears he is a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL.

While new general manager Ryan Pace has yet to address Jeffery's soon-to-be expiring deal, quarterback Jay Cutler said on Tuesday that Jeffery has performed like the club's marquee wideout throughout the offseason program.

"I don't see why [Jeffery can't be the No. 1]," Cutler said."He makes big plays for us, he knows the offense, he's a big target, and I think more importantly that's the guy he wants to become. He wants to become the No. 1 everyday out here, and he's taking the proper steps.

"He's always been a quiet guy, but anytime you put on film or see him work in the weight room or on the field, you can't deny that. It inspires the receivers, myself and everyone else to work as hard as he's working."

Jeffery has produced like a top-flight receiver since he entered the league three years ago. The former second-round pick has the fifth-most receiving yards (2,554) in the NFL since 2013, and is second in team history with 2,921 receiving yards in his first three seasons.

Except for Jeffery and Marquess Wilson, who spent much of the last year on injured reserve with the designation to return, Cutler is throwing to a different cast of wide receivers. Gone is five-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, replaced by free agent pickup Eddie Royal and first-round draft choice Kevin White.

White did not practice on Tuesday for undisclosed reasons.

"Yeah, it's a little shorter group, but it's good guys," Cutler said. "Alshon, I think he's having a heck of a camp, Eddie is solid every day and I think Wilson is back on track to where he was last training camp, progressing every day and making big plays for us. We're confident with this group. We're kind of feeling out who four and five will be. Kevin is doing a good job for us, picking up the offense, he's got a bright future in front of him as well."