Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery became one of the NFL's breakout stars last season when he caught 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns, but Jets cornerback Antonio Allen hardly will be intimidated when they face each other Monday night at MetLife Stadium. Allen often faced Jeffery in practice at South Carolina before both entered the NFL in the 2012 draft.
"I played with him a lot at South Carolina," Allen said. "I do respect him as a receiver and as an athlete. He's a ball hawk. If the ball is in the area, he's going to get it.
"Then again, he's lazy sometimes. He lacks footspeed. But he's still a baller, and he still can make plays at the end of the day."
Despite that criticism, Allen said he remains good friends with Jeffery to this day. In college, Allen mostly played linebacker, but he still took reps covering Jeffery in practice.
Now, that he's moved from safety to corner, Allen is bound to be matched up against his college teammate Monday night. "No doubt, I can cover him," Allen said. "It's just playing my technique, reading my keys, playing with good eyes to be in the right position and being physical."
The 6-3, 216-pound Jeffery teams with 6-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall to form one of the biggest and most physical wide receiver combinations in the NFL. Jets coach Rex Ryan said there are times when Bears quarterback Jay Cutler simply relies on the athleticism of his receivers to make a play work.
"Sometimes, they just throw it up there," Ryan said. "A lot of times, it's, 'Hey, run behind the Buick, and I'll throw it to you.' They've got two monsters, and they don't mind feeding it to them."