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Marshall continues to shine as top target

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 5, 2012 – 3:23 pm

When the Bears took over at their own 14 with :20 remaining after falling behind 17-14 last Sunday against the Seahawks, there was little doubt who quarterback Jay Cutler would look to.

Three of the team’s top four receivers were out with injuries and the last man standing, Brandon Marshall, has three times more receptions than any of his teammates this season.

Despite that certainty, Marshall was still able to haul in Cutler’s 56-yard heave, setting up Robbie Gould’s 46-yard field goal as time expired in regulation to force overtime.

Asked how he and Cutler have been able to connect with such regularity even though opponents know who the ball is going to, Marshall said: “We go where they’re not. It’s as simple as that.

“Jay gives me freedom out there and coach [Mike] Tice gives me freedom out there to adjust without our offense and our scheme. Jay is the type of quarterback where he has such a strong arm that it doesn’t have to be a rhythm throw all the time or timing.

“A lot of times he may read me or I may read a coverage and we’ll be on the same page. That’s the fun part about playing this offense is the freedom to adjust. It’s been clicking.”

Marshall ranks second in the NFL with 91 receptions and 1,182 yards. He’s on pace to shatter Bears single-season records with a career-high 121 catches and 1,576 yards.

Even though injuries to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffery have depleted the receiver position and forced the Bears to rely even more on Marshall, he’s fine with the extra workload.

“Especially this time of year, I want the pressure,” Marshall said. “We have four games left and our goals are still ahead of us, so if I can carry a larger load, I expect it. I’m prepared to do that. I expect to carry a bigger load this time of year and I actually want to pick up my play. However the team needs me moving forward I’ll be prepared and ready.”

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Bears not complaining about injuries

Posted by Larry Mayer on December 5, 2012 – 2:52 pm

Relatively healthy throughout most of the season, the Bears have been bitten by the injury bug repeatedly over the past few weeks. But they’re not feeling sorry for themselves.

“We’ve got some guys banged up on both sides of the ball, [but] that’s throughout the whole NFL,” said receiver Brandon Marshall. “No one is healthy right now.”

Marshall went on to joke that the only player in the NFL who’s 100 percent healthy at this juncture of the season is a kicker such as the Bears’ Robbie Gould. “Yeah, maybe Robbie,” Marshall said. “But other than Robbie everyone else is banged up.”

That at least seems to be the case with the Bears. Earl Bennett, Matt Forte, Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffery, Tim Jennings, Lance Louis, Chris Spencer, Brian Urlacher have all been forced to exit recent games with injuries. Louis has been placed on injured reserve, Urlacher has been ruled out of Sunday’s game in Minnesota, and Bennett and Jennings did not practice Wednesday.

“Some years are like that; some years are not like that,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “This is one of those years. I think they have done a good job of building this team and preparing for the worst with guys being able to come in. Just roll with the punches. Offensively, we know what we have. Whoever is going to be out there, that’s who we’re going to have to go with.”

Healthy or not, the Bears enter the final quarter of their season in a first-place tie with the Packers.

“This is where the championship teams start to separate themselves is in the month of December,” Marshall said. “Right now it’s about character. It’s about want-to and it’s about passion and who wants to get it done. So I’m excited to see how we come out and fight on Sunday.”

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