Jeffery not placing the blame on refs


Jeffery not placing the blame on refs

Alshon Jeffery said it over and over again after Sundays loss, how this is a physical game and he has to play accordingly.

Unfortunately on Sunday, Jeffery got penalized over and over for that physical play.

Jeffery was whistled for three offensive pass interferences, including one in the end zone, in the Chicago Bears 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was a tough day for the rookie wide receiver, who was the Bears second-round pick (13th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft. But Jeffery didnt think there was anything technically wrong with how he played.

I have to play physical. Thats the way the game is played, right? he said. My mindset going into the game is make the plays receivers making plays and stepping up. We knew they were going to try to be physical. We just tried to come and make plays.

At least one of those was questionable. And Jeffery got away with one early in the game when he grabbed Sam Shields by the facemask. But as far as the calls on him, Jeffery wasnt going to blame the officials.

Im going to have to go back and check the film and see, he said. Im not going to put it all on their side.

Packers cornerback Shields agreed with all of them.

It was perfect. It's hard to get them called. We got them and they gave us some good time to get off the field, he said.

Teammate Tramon Williams agreed.

Its unheard of, but its correct, he said. Hopefully we get more refs to do that.

Coach Lovie Smith said hes never seen three in a game before.

When you look at our history, we havent gotten a lot of them. So all of them were really big plays, he said. Normally you get a call that goes your way, but we had a lot of opportunities and thats how the officials saw it.

Two were very big. The first nullified a 1-yard touchdown pass. The second, with the Bears trailing 21-13, nixed a potential 36-yard reception with less than three minutes remaining in the game.

Quarterback Jay Cutler wasnt getting into the what-waswasnt-a-penalty discussion.

I dont think anyone wants to get fined, first of all. Secondly, thats not what lost us the game, he said.

But a few minutes later, Cutler was asked if veteran receivers can get away with more than young guys like Jeffery.

Bump and run and press they let him play early on and then started calling it later. I dont know for what reason. Alshons a big receiver and whenever he bumps a guy the guys going to move, Cutler said. Im at a loss for this question. Youre baiting me into things and Im not going to fall for it.

Jeffery had a tough day. He plays a physical game, and hes not planning on changing that anytime soon.

Thats the way the game is played, he said.

Fire’s younger players a mixed bag in 2016


Fire’s younger players a mixed bag in 2016

When Joey Calistri subbed on for Arturo Alvarez in the 81st minute of the Chicago Fire's 3-2 loss at Toronto on Sunday it was the first time the rookie homegrown player had seen the field in over a month.

The nine-minute appearance was also more time than he'd seen in a league game in July, August, September and October combined. Calistri played 10 of the Fire's first 13 league matches totaling 333 minutes. In the final 21 matches of the year he made four appearances totaling 15 minutes.

Because Calistri's substitution was the third and final sub for the Fire, it also signified that fellow homegrown players Patrick Doody and Drew Conner would not play in 2016. Both made the list of available substitutes in Toronto, but did not get the call to sub into the match.

This offseason the Fire got younger with first-round draft picks Brandon Vincent (22 years old) and Jonathan Campbell (23), second-rounder Alex Morrell (22), homegrowns Calistri and Conner (both 22) and international players Rodrigo Ramos (21), Khaly Thiam (22) and David Arshakyan (22) joining the team. Some of the players like Vincent and Campbell were major contributors in 2016 and could be a significant part of the team in the future. Meanwhile, the Fire's four homegrown players, 19-year-old second-year pro Collin Fernandez in addition to Calistri, Conner and Doody, combined for two starts. Fernandez made two substitute appearances for a total of eight minutes.

Campbell played in 33 of the Fire’s 34 matches, starting 30 of them at center back, and was in the early running for Rookie of the Year before Jordan Morris, Keegan Rosenberry and Jack Harrison solidfied themselves as the top three in that race. Vincent finished with 24 starts and 26 appearances at left back and was named to the MLS All-Star team. Those two, along with Johan Kappelhof, could potentially form the core of the team’s defense next year.

Another young defender, Ramos, showed flashes of being a dangerous attacking right back and made 16 starts. However, the Brazilian seemed to fall out of favor with Paunovic in the final two months of the season and the Fire will have to pick up the option on his loan to make him a permanent member of the team.

A pair of younger international players, Arshakyan and Thiam, saw semi-regular playing time down the stretch after joining during the season, but neither made a big impression. Thiam, like Ramos, joined on loan so his future remains up in the air. Arshakyan joined the team in August and both Arshakyan and Paunovic have said he is still settling in.

General manager Nelson Rodriguez has talked about trying to form a core of players to build around for years to come. Campbell and Vincent showed the potential to be valuable parts of such a core, but for many of the Fire's younger players, 2016 was a season of missed, or a lack of, opportunities.

Indians announce starting rotation for World Series vs. Cubs

Indians announce starting rotation for World Series vs. Cubs

The Cleveland Indians announced their starting pitchers for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs.

To no one's surprise, Corey Kluber will get the start for Game 1 on Tuesday. Kluber has been the team's best starter all season. In three starts this postseason, he is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

Trevor Bauer and Josh Timlin will get the nod for Games 2 and 3. Bauer has only made two starts this October, but his last one in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jayes was cut short after 21 pitches due to a finger injury.

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After those three, the order has yet to be determined.

Indians manager Terry Francona did say to Zack Meisel of that Kluber "could be an option" to start Game 4 on three days rest, which he did in the ALCS.