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The Bears lost two defensive stars when they traded linebacker Roquan Smith and defensive end Robert Quinn ahead of the NFL trade deadline. But they also lost two defensive leaders.
Safety Eddie Jackson admitted he was shocked by Smith’s trade on Monday. But he appreciated the transparency and communication provided by GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus, who met with the leaders on the team to discuss what had happened.
“It helps a lot,” Jackson said, via ChicagoBears.com. “I told Ryan that. I appreciated him giving us a call and telling us what’s going on. You kind of need that. There are a lot of things that start floating around, especially in the locker room. Like, ‘they don’t take care of their guys. Or they don’t care about their guys.’ Or whatever the case may be. That was something pretty cool for them to come and talk to us as men. We get the business part of this. We respect that. But we like to be respected as men and football players as well.”
Jackson has been named one of the replacement captains with Smith and Quinn’s departures, and he’s really embracing his leadership role for this young defense.
“It’s everything I do now, how I carry myself, how I am on the field, how I walk around the building,” Jackson said. “A lot of people are looking at me for the type of reaction – if I’m sad, if I’m up about a situation. The crazy part is sometimes you can’t control it. We all know what Roquan meant to us, what Robert meant. We know the type of guys they are, even off the field, and the relationships they have with players in the locker room. For that to be taken away, it’s like, ‘Ah.’ It’s a shock. But like I said, we can’t control it so we have to focus on the things we can control and that’s how we react to the situation and how we go out there and perform.”
While there’s no replacing the losses of Smith and Quinn, the rest of the defense needs to “pick up a little more slack.” And Jackson believes they can do just that.
“I told the team, the defense can be like two paths,” Jackson said. “Everybody can start thinking of their individual; I’m going to get mine. Or we can come together like, ‘Look, man, this is what we’ve got. We’re all we’ve got. Let’s go out here and we can prove everybody right or we can prove everybody wrong. It’s all about how we react.’ We talk all the time about resilience. Right now, it’s time to show true resilience for every man in this room. We have a lot of young guys who have never been through stuff like this. I mean, I haven’t been through nothing like this. Now it’s time for us to step up and show them, ‘This is how we handle the situation. Go out and let’s rally around each other.'”
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