Bears' Alshon Jeffery OK with criticism for skipping off-season program

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears wide receivers Kevin White (13), Eddie Royal (19), Alshon Jeffery (17) and Marc Mariani (80) stopped to pose for a photo after the team's minicamp Wednesday in Lake Forest.

    Chicago Bears wide receivers Kevin White (13), Eddie Royal (19), Alshon Jeffery (17) and Marc Mariani (80) stopped to pose for a photo after the team's minicamp Wednesday in Lake Forest. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 6/17/2016 6:31 AM

Alshon Jeffery was well aware that his decision to skip the optional part of the off-season program was unpopular.

"Honestly, people are going to say what they're going to say about you regardless," Jeffery said during the mandatory Bears minicamp that ended Thursday. "Every day when you wake up in the morning, people say something good or bad about you, so that's life."

 

The Bears used their transition tag on Jeffery, guaranteeing him $14.59 million this year, but the one-time Pro Bowl wide receiver would prefer a multiyear deal. Part of the reluctance to reward Jeffery with a long-term deal is his injury-racked 2015 season caused him to miss seven games plus the preseason.

"I did some things this off-season to prevent them," said Jeffery, who worked with a trainer in South Florida. "But, with injuries, this is the game of football. There is a 99 percent chance you're going to get hurt."

Going away present:

Bears coach John Fox sent his players away happy Thursday when he brought them together on the field at Halas Hall and announced he was canceling the final minicamp practice.

"They've earned it," Fox said. "I don't just do that because I feel like it. They worked real hard. We had great participation."

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But players got some fatherly advice from Fox before they scattered for some down time before the start of training camp July 27.

"Anytime you cut guys loose, whether it's the off-season or this five-week break before we report to training camp, it's like a parent when you send your kid off in the evening," said Fox, who has four children. "You always have concerns. Hopefully they'll make good decisions. Hopefully they are well-trained -- not only on the field but off the field.

"That's part of the discussion anytime you send them out the door."

Worth the wait:

Defensive end Jonathan Bullard considered leaving school a year before the Bears made him their third-round draft choice in April. He's glad he didn't.

"I think I've matured in a lot of ways," he said. "Being 'the guy' at Florida on the defensive line, it kind of helped me understand what (teams) look for when you're trying to be a leader."

Bullard isn't required to be a leader on the Bears' defensive line, which includes veterans such as Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein, who can mentor the 22-year-old rookie.

"We've got some guys here that I'm following and still learning from," Bullard said. "It's really helped me tremendously. I think coming back (to school) did a good job of helping me understand more about the game and not just putting my hand down and playing, using my natural ability."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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