What happens next is real key for 'fragile' Jeffery

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What happens next is real key for 'fragile' Jeffery

A loss is only a total loss if nothing is learned or gained from the experience. For rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, three pass-interference calls against him in the second half of the loss to Green Bay, one nullifying a touchdown, was a disaster.

RELATED: Jeffery not placing the blame on refs

Now comes the important part.

The thing Im trying to make sure of is that it doesnt destroy him from a mental standpoint, said receivers coach Darryl Drake. Hes fragile right now but thats part of it.

You have to man-up. Are you going to sit back and sulk or are you going to do something about it? Youve still got to play the game physical so you cant give in on that. You have to turn it into something positive. You say, how can there be a positive there? Its in how you respond when youre in that situation again. You have to leave no questions, and he left a question by having his arm extended.

Jeffery already has put the harsh lessons to mental use.

I just have to play a lot smarter, Jeffery told CSNChicago.com.

Beyond the penalties lies a revealing fact about Jeffery: In a short time, made shorter by missed games due to injury, Jeffery has become a crucial figure in the eyes, literally and figuratively, of Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense.

It was to Jeffery that Cutler went three times on first-down plays, a vital need area for the Bears. And it was also to Jeffery that Cutler and the play calling went once on a third-and-10 and twice on fourth-down plays. One of the fourth downs was the ill-fated completion in the end zone that was nullified by then first pass-interference call.

Put another way, in one of the games most important plays, Cutler went to the rookie.

MORE: Bears offense fails with division at stake

Some of the reason lay in the forgotten fact that Jeffery had previously drawn Green Bay penalties on successive plays resulting in 58 penalty yards.

The Bears second-round draft choice last April has always been a physical wideout. That physicality helped him catch 183 passes in 39 games for South Carolina. But while his strength and ability to be physical was part of the attraction for the Bears, it only works if used intelligently.

Jeffery also has a mentor and fan a couple of locker stalls away.

There are things that we can do to keep that from happening so much, said Brandon Marshall, also a physical receiver but who has been tagged with four penalties in 872 snaps vs. Jefferys four in fewer than half (353) that number of plays.

Well work on those things, Marshall said. I feel bad for the kid because hes working his butt off just to get healthy, and also to get back to the form that he believes, and we all believe, that he can play at.

For that to happen to him, that kinds sucks and it sucks for our team, but Alshons going to be OK. Hes a competitor and he has a lot of ability. He has heart and thats a guy that you can take in your foxhole.

MORE: 'Leadership' sentiments have a vaguely hollow ring

Jeffery was ready to crawl into a hole last Sunday. But that was then, Arizona is now.

Im really not thinking about it, Jeffery said, just concentrating on the next game.

Bears announce release of Matt Slauson, Antrel Rolle

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Bears announce release of Matt Slauson, Antrel Rolle

The Bears announced the departures of a pair of veteran players Sunday, releasing offensive lineman Matt Slauson and safety Antrel Rolle.

"We thank Matt and Antrel for the dedication and leadership they brought to our organization," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said in the announcement. "Both men did everything we asked of them. Part of growing as a team is making difficult decisions like the ones we made today. We never take them lightly given the respect we have for everyone who has put on a Bears uniform. We wish each of them the very best as they move forward."

Slauson started 37 games during his three seasons with the Bears including all 16 last season, starting 12 games at left guard and four at center. Slauson spent four seasons with the New York Jets prior to joining the Bears.

Rolle's release was reported earlier Sunday afternoon, and the safety — who appeared in seven games in his lone season with the team in 2015 — tweeted the following shortly after the initial report came out.

Rolle spent five seasons with the New York Giants before joining the Bears last offseason. Bothered by injuries, he appeared in just seven games last season, recording 45 tackles.

Photos: Cubs all dressed up for 'minimalist zany' themed road trip

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Photos: Cubs all dressed up for 'minimalist zany' themed road trip

Joe Maddon's themed road trips are the stuff of legend.

Cubs fans will remember the "onesie" road trip from last season, a trip that featured Jake Arrieta's no-hitter at Dodger Stadium and the team pajama party that followed — as well as Arreita's post-no-no press conference, during which he wore a mustache-themed onesie.

Well, the first themed road trip of the 2016 campaign is here, and the Cubs were all dressed up following Sunday's loss to the Braves at Wrigley Field.

The theme this week is "minimalist zany," something Maddon concocted while online shopping during spring training. He said he wanted the team to dress up in suits — but not conventional suits, an obvious Maddon touch.

Check out the Cubs in their "minimalist zany" duds.

 

Northwestern's Traveon Henry, Deonte Gibson sign with NFL teams

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Northwestern's Traveon Henry, Deonte Gibson sign with NFL teams

A pair of former Northwestern defenders are on their way to the NFL despite not getting drafted this weekend.

Safety Traveon Henry and defensive end Deonte Gibson signed with NFL teams on Saturday following the conclusion of the NFL Draft, Henry going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gibson to the Detroit Lions.

Henry was the Wildcats' third-leading tackler last season, recording 74 total tackles in addition to his three tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Gibson led the team and tied for sixth in the Big Ten with nine sacks, also recording 39 total tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss.

Two other former Cats were drafted on Saturday. Defensive end Dean Lowry went to the Green Bay Packers at No. 137, and full back Dan Vitale went to the Buccaneers at No. 197.