BOURBONNAIS -- More than 10,000 fans attended Saturday night's first practice in full pads, and they were treated to a spectacular performance by wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
The evening began on a frightening note when Marshall crashed to the ground, landing awkwardly after catching a routine pass against air from Jason Campbell. Marshall remained on the ground for more than a few anxious moments but was soon back in action.
He beat Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman deep twice, once making a catch that Tillman barely missed deflecting, and another time adjusting to a Cutler bomb that was launched horizontally across the field 60 yards in the air. Later the 6-foot-4 Marshall plucked a high pass one-handed as easily as if he were picking an apple off a tree.
"Brandon Marshall is a scholarship player," coach Lovie Smith said. "I think we'll all agree with that. He made some big plays. A little scare there early on, but of course there was nothing to it. But you always fear it when you see one of your best players going down like that."
A fresh outlook:
New defensive tackle Brian Price, who was acquired Thursday from the Bucs for a conditional draft pick, reportedly a seventh-rounder, attended practice but cannot participate until Wednesday.
He has been beset by injury and personal problems, including the spring death of his sister in a car accident. But the former second-round pick from UCLA believes a change of scenery will benefit him.
"I'm feeling great," he said. "Just my mental (state) a couple months ago was nowhere near where I am now. Just from being here I feel so much better, like the weight of the world has just lifted off of my shoulders. I was happy (being at practice) -- a brand new beginning, a fresh start. It don't get no better than this. This is a defensive town with great leaders. I love it. The love of the game is just coming back to me."
Price may need some time to be back to speed after suffering a leg injury on the first day of Bucs camp.
It's all good:
Running back Matt Forte wasn't thrilled when the Bears signed unrestricted free-agent running back Michael Bush to a four-year, $12 million deal in the off-season.
Forte was left waiting the wings, as the Bears' franchise player with a one-year tender offer of $7.742 million, but he eventually got a four-year, $32 million contract. Now it's just one big, happy family with Forte and Bush co-existing in the backfield.
"Every year I've been here, there's another guy that was brought in to push me or to help me out, basically," Forte said. "That's what I look at it as. Competition brings success out of everybody. It's either going to make you better or you're going to try to work harder to try to get better. I accept Mike being here. He's a great guy and it's going to be a fun year."
The general consensus is that the Bears have surrounded quarterback Jay Cutler with all the weapons he needs to flourish, and he seems to agree. "This is the most comfortable I think I've been going into camp with the offense, of what we're doing scheme-wise and the talent around me," he said. "You could say this is the most comfortable I've been."
Coming and going:
Wide receiver Devin Hester sat out Saturday night's practice after tweaking his ankle following a collision with safety Major Wright in Friday afternoon's practice.
Cornerback Jeremy Ware was signed on Saturday and backup kicker David Teggart was waived to keep the Bears at the 90-man limit.