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Marshall is his own worst critic

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 20, 2012 – 3:10 pm

Brandon Marshall set up a touchdown with receptions of 41 and 20 yards on the Bears’ opening possession in Saturday night’s 33-31 preseason win over the Redskins.

But if you thought the three-time Pro Bowler was happy with his performance, you’d be wrong.

“It’s never as good as you think or it’s never as bad as you think,” Marshall said Monday at Halas Hall. “To me it’s a little humbling. I have to be more disciplined in my routes and on the field. 

“You don’t want to take away from the excitement and things that we accomplished out there a few days ago. But on my end I have to be more disciplined. I’m ready to get back to work.”

It appeared that Marshall was being overly critical of his play. But as one of only three NFL receivers to compile at least 1,000 yards in each of the last five seasons, the 6-4, 230-pounder evidently holds himself to a higher standard.

“I’m always hard on myself,” Marshall said. “I’m my own worst critic. There are high expectations this year. We understand that. But it’s not going to change the way I approach the game or prepare. Maybe one day you can sit down and I’ll go over that preseason game last week and show you how awful it looked. I just can’t make those mistakes.”

Marshall said that he needs to focus on “little things” such as his route depth, being in the right place and being on the same page as the quarterback.

“It’s things that if you catch it now it won’t hurt or affect us once the season starts,” he said. “Luckily it didn’t bite us. But we’re just trying to catch it before it hurts us in the future.”

Marshall and quarterback Jay Cutler certainly seemed like they were on the same page when they teamed up for a 41-yard completion down the right sideline on the Bears’ first play from scrimmage.

“We took advantage of what the defense was giving us,” Marshall said. “We were excited to see that coverage and Jay put us in the right position. Jay did a great job of recognizing coverage and definitely loved the match-up. He could have went anywhere on the field, but he chose to come to my side and we made the play.”

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Marshall impressed with rookie receiver

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 20, 2012 – 2:54 pm

Brandon Marshall acknowledged that it may be too early for Alshon Jeffery to begin crafting his Hall of Fame speech. But the veteran receiver has been very impressed with his rookie counterpart.

“What does [Bill] Parcells say? Let’s not induct him in Canton yet,” Marshall said with a laugh. “But if he continues to do what he’s doing, he’ll have a chance to get great in this league.”

Jeffery has performed well in training camp and the Bears’ first two preseason contests, catching a game-high four passes for 35 yards against the Broncos and three passes for a team-leading 62 yards versus the Redskins.

“I’m really impressed with his game,” Marshall said. “I’m really impressed with his ability to take in what we’re trying to accomplish in the playbook. You can tell he’s been really coached and I look forward to big things out of him this year.”

Marshall, who had only 20 receptions as a rookie before recording 102, 104 and 101 in his next three seasons, feels that the adjustment from college football to the NFL is different for everyone.

“I’m seeing guys like A.J. Greene, Alshon, Julio Jones, you’re seeing those guys come in and make an immediate impact right away,” Marshall said. “For me, I wasn’t the professional right away that I should have been. 

“Alshon is a guy who gets it early. And you’ve got guys like me who talk to him about continuing to stay on that path and be professional. He’s ahead of schedule.”

Marshall hasn’t and won’t speak with Jeffery about the 15-yard penalty the rookie drew against the Redskins when he ripped off cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s helmet during a shoving match.

“One thing we talk about around here is we want to play physical,” Marshall said. “We’re going to be smart, absolutely. We don’t want to get those penalties. But it’s hard to play this game while letting people punk you.

“Everyone knows DeAngelo Hall, what type of player he is. He’s a great player, but he’s feisty and he knows how to get under people’s skin. We’ll be smarter next time, but we want [Jeffery] to be physical and have that aggression out there on the field.”

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Bears offense finishes with a flurry

Posted by Larry Mayer on August 6, 2012 – 8:29 pm

Jay Cutler and the rest of the Bears’ No. 1 offense ended Monday’s practice with a flourish, engineering an impressive two-minute drill that resulted in a touchdown.

Starting at his own 35-yard line with no timeouts, Cutler completed passes to Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall before spiking the ball to kill the clock at the 9. After an eight-yard pass to Kyle Adams, Cutler snapped the ball and plowed into the end zone behind his offensive line for a TD.

“We’ve been trying to finish practice in that last period a little bit better,” said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. “I felt like in the first two weeks we only had one practice where we finished the last period good. It felt like the two-minute drill today, we finished practice better than we have.”

The well-executed two-minute drill came after Cutler had thrown three interceptions in a lengthy red-zone drill. He was picked off by linebackers Lance Briggs and Nick Roach and nickel back D.J. Moore.

Asked later about the Bears defense, Cutler said: “They’re good. They’re very sound. They’re well coached. They’re in the right spot all the time and they make plays on the ball. For the three years that I’ve gone against them, there’s no let-up in this crew. It makes us better and I think some of the things that we’re doing offensively challenges them a little bit as well.”

The No. 2 offense also scored a touchdown in its two-minute drill as quarterback Jason Campbell connected on passes to Armando Allen, Joe Anderson, Brittan Golden and Chris Summers.

After Craig Steltz broke up a pass intended for Evan Rodriguez near the goal line, Campbell completed a 12-yard pass to Anderson on fourth-and-five from the 17. Three plays later Campbell rifled a 5-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Allen.

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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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Marshall aims to make most of chances

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 30, 2012 – 4:39 pm

It’s unrealistic to expect Brandon Marshall to replicate Saturday night’s spectacular performance every day in practice. But that doesn’t mean the Pro Bowl receiver’s mentality ever changes.

“One day you may get one catch, the next day you could have nine or 10,” Marshall said. “But the thing about it is controlling what you can control and taking advantage of your opportunities. So whether it’s one or it’s a million, take advantage of your opportunities.”

Marshall did that and more Saturday night in Bourbonnais. After landing awkwardly on his leg and crumpling to the ground in pain, he returned to individual drills and hauled in a long touchdown pass.

Later in practice Marshall stiff-armed safety Chris Conte to pick up extra yards along the sideline, caught a pass over the middle with nickel back D.J. Moore draped all over him, hauled in a laser beam from Jay Cutler while streaking down the left sideline, beat cornerback Charles Tillman on another deep pass and made a leaping one-handed grab over the middle.

While one of Marshall’s primary objectives is to improve his route running in training camp, the 6-4, 230-pounder works on a different aspect of his game in every practice.

“The first day I was slipping all over the place, so now I’m really paying attention to my footwork,” Marshall said. “I do cone drills and work on the routes that gave me problems the night before.

“So every day it changes. I usually take one thing a day and just work on it and get better at it. By the end of camp you’ve worked on so many things and so many different parts of your game.”

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Marshall benefiting from facing Tillman

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 29, 2012 – 1:47 pm

Bears receivers coach Darryl Drake isn’t the only one helping Brandon Marshall become a better player.

“He’s competing against one of the best corners in the NFL in Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman, and Peanut is making him work,” Drake said. “It’s only going to make him better as time goes on. I’m very excited about what Peanut’s doing to get Brandon ready.

“Brandon welcomes that challenge and understands and knows that it’s only going to get him better. The thing that I don’t want him to do is get frustrated because Peanut’s going to win some of those battles. I expect [Marshall] to win every battle, but at the same time I have a lot of respect for [Tillman].”

Drake also has a lot of respect for receiver Earl Bennett, who is often overshadowed by Marshall and Devin Hester despite consistently making plays, especially in key third-down situations.

“He’s underappreciated by a lot of people because he’s very consistent,” Drake said. “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. He does all those things right.

“The quarterback has a great rapport with him. He knows where he’s going to be, and the thing about it is Earl’s going to make the play.”

Rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery, a 6-3, 216-pounder, has also made plays early in training camp. Drake especially likes the second-round pick’s size, hands and ability to get in and out of breaks.

“As he learns to use his body and body up people and do those things, he’s only going to get better,” Drake said. “But I do like his ability to catch the football and his ability to run routes. He’s gotten so much better and you still seethe improvement that he’s made since Day 1.”

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Bears’ odd couple building on close bond

Posted by Larry Mayer on July 27, 2012 – 8:11 pm

When Jay Cutler throws a long pass to Brandon Marshall in practice, it’s usually the farthest the two are apart from each other all day.

The Bears quarterback and wide receiver, who formed a close bond as Denver Broncos teammates from 2006-08, have been inseparable at training camp. Their dorm rooms are right next to each other and they’ve been walking to and from the dining hall side-by-side on a regular basis.

“I’m just happy to be here with Jay,” said Marshall, a three-time Pro Bowler who was acquired by the Bears March 13 in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. “He’s a great leader and I’m looking forward to working with him.

“You can put a good quarterback and a good receiver together, but it’s not always going to mesh because sometimes you don’t see the field the same way or see things off the field the same way. But Jay and I, I don’t know why, we see things the same way.”

Cutler and Marshall developed into Pro Bowlers while playing their first three NFL seasons together in Denver. As Cutler’s primary target, Marshall caught 102 passes for a career-high 1,325 yards and seven touchdowns in 2007 and had a career-best 104 receptions for 1,265 yards and 6 TDs in 2008.

Marshall conceded that like any two people with strong personalities, he and Cutler don’t always see eye-to-eye. But that doesn’t affect their friendship.

“In any relationship where you take two people from two different places and you put them together, you butt heads because sometimes we try to impose our own wills on each other,” Marshall said.

“But once you understand that there’s no right or wrong, it’s just two different people, that’s when a relationship gets better, and with Jay and I, it’s always some work. We’re like the odd couple. We’re that couple where there’s fireworks, but then it gets a little fiery at times, too.”

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