What happens next is real key for 'fragile' Jeffery


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.

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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.

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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.

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

Cubs down to only one All-Star starter in voting update

The Cubs are down to only one starter in next month's All-Star Game in Miami: reigning MVP Kris Bryant.

Jason Heyward lost his grip on the final starting outfielder spot to Marlins star Marcell Ozuna in the latest All-Star balloting update released by the MLB:

That may be for the best, as the Cubs are currently banged up (Heyward. Ben Zobrist and Kyle Hendricks are on the disabled list) and slogging through a season where they've hovered around .500. So maybe four days off in a row would be beneficial for the defending champs.

Heyward is 29,270 votes behind Ozuna and Zobrist is 118,248 votes behind Heyward. It appears as if Washington's Bryce Harper and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon are sure things for the top two outfielder spots in the NL.

Bryant is only 58,082 votes ahead of Nolan Arenado at third base. Anthony Rizzo trails Ryan Zimmerman at first base, Javy Baez comes in well behind Daniel Murphy at second base and Buster Posey has more than twice as many votes as runner-up Willson Contreras at catcher.

Addison Russell is third among shortstops. Kyle Schwarber — despite being demoted to the minors last week — is eighth among NL outfielders.

It's a far cry from 2016, when the Cubs made up all four infield spots in the NL starting lineup.

Voting ends in four days. Fans can head to MLB.com to vote.

Avisail Garcia moves up in final days of All-Star Game voting

Avisail Garcia moves up in final days of All-Star Game voting

Major League Baseball released the latest American League All-Star voting update Monday and Avisail Garcia has jumped back into fifth place among outfielders.

The White Sox right fielder jumped past Boston's Mookie Betts since the last returns were announced on June 13.

Since then Garcia has slashed .319/.447/.819 with a homer, 5 RBIs and three doubles in 12 games.

Aaron Judge, Mike Trout and George Springer remain the top vote-getters in the outfield, though Trout won't play in the Midsumemr Classic because of a thumb injury.

On the year Garcia is batting .331 with a .904 OPS, 11 homers and 51 RBIs; the RBIs are the same number Garcia had all of last year.

Garcia is the only White sox player among the top AL vote-getters at any position.

Voting ends June 30.