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Marshall makes highlight-reel catch

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 2, 2012 – 8:30 pm

Bears receiver Brandon Marshall continued to make impact plays in Thursday’s practice, highlighted by a one-handed 35-yard touchdown reception from Jay Cutler.

Streaking down the left sideline, Marshall plucked the ball out of the air with his left hand, beating cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety Brandon Hardin. On another play, Marshall caught a low Cutler pass with cornerback Charles Tillman draped all over him.

Other highlights Thursday included receiver Devin Thomas hauling in a Jason Campbell pass deep down the left sideline, defensive end Shea McClellin leaping high to intercept a Campbell screen pass and linebacker Lance Briggs picking off a Cutler pass intended for Marshall.

Second-year defensive tackle Stephen Paea continued to impress, working with the No. 1 defense.

“As you can see he’s been working with the ‘ones’ for a reason,” said coach Lovie Smith. “He’s done some good things; rushing the passer, he can play the nose, he has under-tackle ability at the three technique. He can do a lot of things. In his second year, a high draft pick, he should be ready to make a move.”

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Urlacher wowed Bears scout from start

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 2, 2012 – 4:52 pm

John Paul Young will never forget the first time he saw Brian Urlacher play football.

Young was working as the Bears’ southwest area scout in 1999 when a one-day trip to see the University of New Mexico star turned into a longer excursion.

“The first time I was out there I stayed two more days because I didn’t believe what I was seeing,” Young said Wednesday during a visit to Bears training camp.

“He was at strong safety most of the time and free safety some of the time. But, lord have mercy, it didn’t take long to know he was just a wildcat linebacker. He also played tight end in the red zone and scored a bunch of touchdowns. You could tell he had ability. He had great feet, size and high-motor skills.”

Young, who is now retired and living in Texas, is thrilled with what Urlacher has accomplished since being selected by the Bears with the ninth pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. The star middle linebacker has been voted to eight Pro Bowls and was named NFL defensive player of the year in 2005.

“I felt very positive about him,” Young said. “I felt we had to have him. But believe me, me or nobody else including Brian Urlacher knew he was going to be this good.

“I’m extraordinarily pleased that he has been so productive. It makes you feel good when your kids [you’ve scouted] do well. All of us have enjoyed watching him now for more than a decade.”

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Bennett comfortable flying under radar

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 2, 2012 – 2:19 pm

When Bears receivers are discussed, all the talk seemingly centers around Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, speedy playmaker Devin Hester and promising rookie Alshon Jeffery.

Although Earl Bennett is an afterthought to some, the productive fifth-year pro is comfortable flying under the radar.

“It’s fine with me,” Bennett said. “My thing is to go out and do my job to the best of my ability, continue to go out and compete at a high level and just make plays. That’s what it comes down to.”

There isn’t a more dependable receiver on the Bears roster than Bennett, who has converted all 17 of his third-down receptions into first downs since Week 9 of the 2010 season.

“He’s underappreciated by a lot of people because he’s very consistent,” said receivers coach Darryl Drake. “He does what everybody wants him to do, but I don’t think he will get overlooked in this offense. He’s an integral part, a big part because he does all the subtle things, all the little things.”

Bennett has enjoyed working with first-year coordinator Mike Tice.

“I like how he creates mismatches for guys to be able to succeed,” Bennett said. “This offense is very explosive, and that’s what we want to be as an offense.

“You’ve got the speedster [Hester] and the big guy [Marshall] outside who create a lot of mismatches and attention, and there’s me inside in the slot or outside. I’m just doing what I do best, just getting open and catching the ball.”

With all the weapons the Bears possess on offense, Bennett is excited about the possibilities.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said. “Right now in training camp we’re trying to put all the pieces to the puzzle together. We look good on paper, but we’ve just got to continue to put it together.”

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Toub’s thoughts are with Andy Reid

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 2, 2012 – 2:10 pm

Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub was shocked and saddened Sunday to learn about the death of Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s 29-year-old son Garrett.

Garrett Reid was found dead in his dorm room Sunday morning at Lehigh University, where he was staying while assisting Eagles strength coaches during Philadelphia’s training camp. Garrett had seemed to be rebounding from a troubled past that included drug arrests.

A decade after Andy Reid gave Toub his first NFL job, the Bears special teams coordinator remains close friends with the Eagles coach.

“I can’t even imagine something like that happening to your kid,” said Toub, who has two children. “It’s the worst thing in the world that could happen. Andy’s a great friend and I really feel for him. I sent him a text message, but what can you say?”

Toub and Reid had worked together at UTEP in 1987-88 and again at Missouri in 1989-91. When Toub and the rest of the Missouri staff were fired after the 2000 season, Reid hired Toub as an assistant special teams coach with the Eagles. He held that position for three years before joining the Bears as part of Lovie Smith’s first staff in 2004.

“Andy’s the one who got me in the league,” Toub said. “I owe him a lot. He’s been a great friend over the years and continues to be.”

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