Bears' WRs excel at more than catching

Lost amid Alshon Jeffery (1,193) and Brandon Marshall (1,090) becoming the NFL's most productive receiving duo through 14 weeks with 2,283 yards has been the blocking they have provided, along with tight end Martellus Bennett and wide receiver Earl Bennett.

“Your perimeter runs certainly are impacted more,” coach Marc Trestman said. “Our guys take a lot of pride in it. They understand that Matt Forte is blocking and protecting for them when they're running routes at times. It's a connected issue that the other 10 guys count, whoever has the football.

“That's a way of showing that they've bought into the fact that people are doing things for them to get open when we have to throw the football. They're going to counter that with effective play on the perimeter when they're involved in the running game.”

The NFL's No. 2 duo through 14 weeks, the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas (1,149) and Eric Decker (1,088), trailed Jeffery-Marshall by 46 yards with 2,237 yards. They combined for 87 yards Thursday night, putting them at 2,324, so the Bears' twosome need 42 yards today to better that mark.

The No. 3 twosome is the Browns' Josh Gordon (1,400) and tight end Jordan Cameron (825), who have 2,225 yards going into today's game.

Same as before:

Before he was relegated back to the bench this week, backup QB Josh McCown became a national story and a Chicago celebrity by playing the best football of his 11-year career in relief of Jay Cutler.

It didn't change him.

“Every now and then, when I see people out, somebody will say, ‘Good job,' or whatever, and I appreciate that,” McCown said. “But other than my wife and my kids getting excited and my mom and dad and family, you know brothers and sisters and all that, that's what's cool for me.

“Just wanting to go out and play well and help our team is the main thing. That's where I gain the most satisfaction, just being able to look back over this stretch and go, ‘You know, I played some good football.'”

Despite the third-highest passer rating in the NFL (109.8), McCown still has some regrets.

“The things that stick out are: What could I have done better to help us win the St. Louis game and the Minnesota game?” he said. “Those are the things that, as a competitor, you probably think about the most.”

His mudder was a mudder:

The Cleveland area has experienced snow for the past several days, more is expected today and a sloppy field is an advantage for return specialist Devin Hester, according to Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.

“I think all returners are more dangerous (in those conditions),” DeCamillis said. “We saw, what, two in the Washington(-Kansas City) game, two in the Detroit(-Philadelphia) game, where it was complete snow on the field.”

The Chiefs returned a punt and a kickoff for scores on a sloppy field and the Lions' Jeremy Ross did the same in a raging snowstorm. There were 5 touchdowns in the final 2:05 of the Ravens snowy victory over the Vikings, including a 77-yard kickoff-return TD by Baltimore's Jacoby Jones and a 79-yard TD by Minnesota's Cordarrelle Patterson after he caught a short pass.

“The tracks were horrible,” DeCamillis said. “It's definitely an advantage for the return team. The coverage team has to break down and go make a tackle. The return team is going forward. So it's a huge advantage now when it's a sloppy field like that.”

Another challenge:

Bears cornerback Tim Jennings helped hold Cowboys No. 1 wide receiver Dez Bryant to 2 catches for 12 yards Monday night.

Today he'll have to contend with the Browns' second-year phenom Josh Gordon, who leads the NFL with 1,400 yards and is averaging 19.7 yards per catch.

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings will be giving away a lot of size to the 6-3, 225-pound Gordon, who is a handful according to Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

“He has big-play ability, he has a large catch radius, and he's fast,” Tucker said. “He can take a 5-yard slant and turn it into a 60-yard touchdown. He's playing with a lot of confidence. The quarterbacks have confidence in him to go up and make plays. He can catch the ball in a crowd and win the contested 1-on-1 battle.”

  Alshon Jeffery (17) and Earl Bennett (80) — as well as Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett (not pictured) — understand how important their role as blockers is for Matt Forte (22) and the running game. Steve Lundy/
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