By Chris Emma--
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) -- When Alshon Jeffery takes the field, defenses must notice his imposing presence.
There aren't many receivers in the NFL like Jeffery, who boasts such strength within his 6-foot-3 frame. Throw the ball Jeffery's direction, and he's got a good chance at making the play.
"If we got him 100 percent for 16 games," Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said, "he's going to do some damage."
Cutler couldn't wait to get Jeffery back on the practice field in mini-camp. The same can be said for the rest of the Bears offense. After all, Vic Fangio's revamped defense often gave Cutler and the offense fits without Jeffery on the field last season.
At mini-camp in June, Jeffery had finally returned to Halas Hall after cleaning out his locker last January and spending the entire offseason training in Miami with trainer David Alexander and DBC Fitness. Jeffery returned to Lake Forest appearing in excellent shape and ready to rebound from an injury-filled 2015 season.
Jeffery is set to play the 2016 season under the franchise tag unless an agreement is reached on a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline. Jeffery's camp -- led by agent Tory Dandy of Relativity Sports -- and the Bears brass have been active in negotiations, though a source stated that a deal isn't yet within reach.
None of that is a concern to Jeffery, he claims, and the 26-year-old receiver isn't worried about proving himself worthy of Julio Jones or Dez Bryant money.
"It really doesn't matter to me," Jeffery said in mini-camp. "That situation will take care of itself. I'm just here to play football and focus on football."
Jeffery is keeping his eyes on a big 2016 season. After enduring four soft-tissue injuries and missing seven games last year, his focus is on playing -- not negotiating. That's exactly what Bears coach John Fox wants as he looks toward the talented receiver as a vital part to the offense.
What's ahead for Jeffery's future beyond 2016 remains to be seen, but his presence could be critical for the Bears this season. Jeffery posted 174 catches for 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns in two entirely healthy seasons before 2015.
"We didn't make the playoffs,"Jeffery said, reflecting on the disappointment of 2015. "That's the main goal -- to win the division, make the playoffs and win a championship."
The Bears want Jeffery to go out this season and put up big numbers in consistently good health. Those two aspects have gone hand in hand, of course.
Logistics for a long-term deal could come to fruition before the upcoming deadline, though there's still work to be done. Jeffery is just trying to stay healthy and dominant, because his mere presence can make a difference in any given game.
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