Bears WR Jeffery takes responsibility for 4-game suspension
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery accepted responsibility for his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy against performance-enhancing drugs and acknowledged letting down the team on Wednesday.
He said the Bears (3-10) likely would have won a few more games had he been playing. They dropped three of four in his absence and will host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (7-6) on Sunday.
Asked if he let down the team, Jeffery responded, ''Most definitely.''
With an expiring contract, Jeffery has three games left to regain the trust of the team and the front office. That effort kicked into gear with his return to practice on Wednesday.
''I mean, just got to know what you put in your body,'' Jeffery said. ''I ain't going to say it, but I'm a part of the team. I want to say that I feel like if I was playing, some of those games we would have had a different outcome. We probably would have won.''
The team leader with 630 yards receiving, Jeffery is coming back on the heels of a 20-17 loss at Detroit that knocked Chicago out of playoff contention.
He will be suiting up for the first time since a blowout loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 13.
The suspension was announced the following day, with the former Pro Bowl receiver posting on social media that he took a supplement for inflammation containing a substance banned by the NFL.
Jeffery would not say Wednesday what he took or who recommended it.
''Like I said, I'm going to own up to it and I accept the punishment,'' he said. ''At the end of the day, it's my name on it, so I'm moving forward with it. So it is what it is. I learned from it. That's all I can say.''
Jeffery said the suspension surprised him and he ''attempted'' to appeal it. But ultimately, he felt there was ''nothing I can do about it.''
The suspension raised more questions about a receiver who was limited to nine games last season because of injuries.
The inability to stay on the field just adds to the uncertainty surrounding Jeffery, who is playing for the $14.6 million franchise tag after he and the Bears were unable to agree to a long-term contract.
It's not clear how the suspension will impact his negotiations in free agency - with Chicago or other teams. If he is concerned about his value on the market, Jeffery would not say.
''There's nothing I can do about it,'' he said. ''All I can do is try to work hard. Hopefully whatever happens at the end of this season is something good.''
Does he have anything to prove to Bears general manager Ryan Pace?
''I don't think I've got nothing to prove to no one,'' he said. ''I just go out there and do my job and play football and play hard.''
Jeffery also insisted he is not concerned that the suspension will tarnish his reputation.
''At the end of the day people are going to say what they're going to say about you regardless,'' he said. ''So whatever you guys want to say about me, I'll take it all in stride.''
Jeffery will have some catching up to do with quarterback Matt Barkley, who has started the past three games with Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer injured.
Barkley completed two passes to Jeffery after Hoyer broke his left arm in the loss at Green Bay on Oct. 20. But they have little experience playing together.
''He's running routes I've thrown before, so he's not a completely foreign route-runner to me,'' Barkley said.
''It's just some of the little things, getting used to putting it high on deep balls to where he can go up and get some of those deep balls or just how he does get in and out of some breaks on certain routes. It's not all that foreign if he sticks to his depths and what I'm used to. We should be good to go.''
Jeffery said being away from the team was not easy. He said he focused on training, avoided social media and tried not to watch too much TV.
''I was excited to get back out there with my guys. I missed playing football,'' he said.
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