Arkush: Waiting on the other wideouts

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery plays in a preseason game Aug. 23 against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (Marcio Jose Sanchez)

There is much to be excited about with this 2013 edition of the Bears beyond their 2-0 start.

There is a growing belief that a Bears team has in fact found an offense with the arrival of Marc Trestman and his coaching staff, a legitimate receiving threat at tight end and four new offensive linemen to protect the uber-talented Jay Cutler.

The evidence is the Bears are sixth in the league in points scored, and Cutler's passer rating at 95.4 is 14 percent higher than his career average leaving little doubt he's directing an offense that's trending up.

But at the same time there is work to do, there are still missing pieces and one problem in particular that is holding this offense back from really taking off, and it's not hard to figure out what it is.

Every team in the NFL today features what they call four- and five-wide packages in their passing game, the four and five standing for the number of receivers on the field.

Occasionally one or two tight ends can be used in those packages, but for the most part every team has occasion to put four or even five wide receivers on the field at the same time.

At the moment the Bears only have three, and only one gets the ball on a regular basis.

Brandon Marshall is on pace for another All Pro season. But after Marshall, the Bears' other starter, Alshon Jeffery, has just six catches for 53 yards and Earl Bennet has had the ball thrown in his direction three times and has totaled three catches for 25 yards.

The only other receivers the Bears dress on Sundays are Eric Weems, who is basically a special teams specialist and not expected to be a factor in the passing game, and Joe Anderson. Anderson also has become a special teams contributor but has taken only three snaps on offense in two games and hasn't been thrown the ball.

Seventh-round draft choice Marquess Wilson is the only other receiver on the roster, but he has been inactive the first two Sundays.

I asked Wilson what he's been told he needs to do to get to dress and then contribute to the passing game?

"It kind of hints towards working to get on special teams," he said. "That's what a rookie has to do, and I'm working hard on that."

Wilson said he's ready to go when called and that he has the offense down.

"I've got the playbook down with help from Earl Bennett, B. Marsh and Alshon and all the receivers, so I'm good," he said.

Anderson seems just a bit more anxious.

"This offense is a great offense," he said. "It's made for people to make plays. I'm comfortable with it. If I'm out there in it there's going to be a lot of big plays made by me and everyone else."

Anderson knows his moment could arrive at any time.

"You never know," he said. "When Alshon gets tired or in the course of a ballgame somebody comes out, I go in, I'm the fourth receiver and they expect me and my preparation to be there. There's no excuses. I could be put in just like that. When the opportunity presents itself it's all about taking advantage of it, and that's what I'm all about."

Anderson is clearly eager to play.

"Man, when I get my opportunity to really do what God allows me to do, nothing surprises me. I know what I can do," he said. "A lot of other people don't know what I can do, but this league is based off opportunity, and when guys get that opportunity . . . no one really knows what I can do yet. I'm just patiently waiting."

So here's the question. Are Anderson and Wilson going to round out this wide receiver group, or do the Bears still need to add a few players?

Either way we won't really know what Trestman, Cutler and this offense can do until those questions are answered.

• Hub Arkush covers the Bears for Shaw Media and HubArkush.com. Write to him at harkush@shawmedia.com.

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