FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Bears receiver Kevin White lost. And everyone saw it.
Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, a Pro Bowl player last season, cut off White’s route by being physical at the line of scrimmage and then jumping his break inside.
Because it came during one-on-one drills, quarterback Jay Cutler threw the ball away, an early incompletion that garnered cheers from the Patriots’ faithful in the stands on the first day of joint practices Monday at Gillette Stadium.
White’s response, though, said much more. He won the second round by muscling through Butler’s aggression, gaining separation with his size and a cut outside and coming back to the ball for a completion.
‘‘He’s patient, and he’s aggressive at the line,’’ White said of Butler. ‘‘I like his game.’’
And the Bears should love White’s response.
No Bears player stands to benefit more from practicing against the Patriots than White. His work against the Bears’ best cornerbacks — Tracy Porter, Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan — had become monotonous.
White’s development has reached a point where he needs different challenges. And the Patriots, who typically have excelled in press-man coverage, are a formidable opponent. It starts with one-on-one battles against Butler.
White, who lost his rookie season to shin surgery, doesn’t shrug off the importance of this week. He knows it will be immensely beneficial, whether it’s deciphering the Patriots’ disguised coverages or improving his connection with Cutler.
‘‘Yeah, especially missing all of last year,’’ White said. ‘‘I’m a little bit behind, but I feel good.’’
It’s apparent White is getting better at understanding the details of being an NFL receiver. He speaks clearly about the techniques he needs to beat the various ways he’s defended.
On the first day against the Patriots, it was their physicality.
‘‘I don’t mind it,’’ White said. ‘‘Sometimes I get a lackadaisical because I don’t mind the touching. It kind of looks bad if there’s too much going on. I just have to keep that in mind and try to not let them touch me as much.’’
How does he do that?
‘‘Try to move them off the line, attack their leverage,’’ White said. ‘‘If they don’t want me to go inside, try to attack them inside a little bit and just scare them up, so they could move and I could take their grass. But I like being physical.’’
White’s size — he officially is listed at 6-3 and 216 pounds — matters, too. He is learning from receiver Alshon Jeffery how to make it a major advantage.
‘‘Basically, [it’s] just use my size a lot,’’ White said.
Jeffery, who is 6-3 and 218 pounds, is considered one of the best in the league at it.
‘‘Sometimes I like to try to be a little receiver and shimmy-shimmy and run around guys because I’m faster,’’ White said. ‘‘But sometimes it can be wasted motion. I can just grab the guys and muscle them up to get into my route.’’
That’s what White and Jeffery did at times against Butler, cornerback Logan Ryan and others.
White called Butler a ‘‘cool guy’’ after getting to know him during a photo shoot in Los Angeles. But emotions eventually boiled over when a scuffle between Jeffery and Butler sparked a huge melee.
‘‘That’s what happens in football when you’ve got two good guys going at each
other,’’ White said.
The intensity is significant for White, too. The more gamelike experiences he gets, the better.
‘‘We’re focused,’’ White said. ‘‘Nobody wants to get embarrassed out here. When you get embarrassed in front of your teammates, it’s like, ‘All right, it’s my teammate.’ But going against a different opponent, it’s like, ‘No go.’ ’’